starring Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Jane Curtin
screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, based on the book by Lee Israel
directed by Marielle Heller
by Walter Chaw Can You Ever Forgive Me? is about Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy), a gifted biographer who has achieved some small measure of success but lately finds herself unemployable, unloved, maybe unlovable. Her best friend calls her a "horrid cunt" and it's the nicest thing anyone says to her. Her agent, Marjorie (Jane Curtin), tells her that she needs to be nicer. Only successful people are allowed to display the full measure of Lee's misanthropy, she says; the full wrath of her lacerating wit and intimidating intelligence; the full portion of her knowledge and impatience with your lack of it. It's essentially the speech Crash gives Nuke in Bull Durham about fungus in his shower slippers. You get to be a slob when you're famous. When you're a slob and you're not, you're just pathetic and disgusting. I spent 36 hours in New York City once several years ago in circumstances very much like the one I'm in now: wondering what I want to do with the rest of my life, worrying that I'll never find it, worrying that I'll never get to do it if I do. It's frightening to think you won't achieve your goals. It's worse when you've achieved every single one of them and it means nothing to you, and so you're back at square one-ish. Luckily, though (well, maybe luckily), you do have this one skill...