I adore Melissa McCarthy. I think she is incredibly funny and has an uncanny ability to completely lose herself in a role. The problem is, I haven’t been too crazy about the roles she’s chosen. Most of them are too over the top (dare I say kinda annoying?), or she’ll go to the other end of the spectrum, and hold back too much. With Can You Ever Forgive Me, she may have finally found that perfectly balanced role.
McCarthy plays real life author Lee Israel. Though once an acclaimed author, her work and reputation have dried up, and she’s left in a state of desperation. Using her skills as a biographer, able to get into the mindset of her subjects, she begins forging letters written by the likes of Fanny Brice, Noel Coward, and Dorothy Parker.
I realized while watching this, that I think I enjoy biopics more when I don’t know the subject. There’s less expectations, and it’s all discovery. If someone who isn’t famous enough that their story is known, you can be damn sure their story is interesting if it’s made it into a film. I was enthralled by every single second of this story (which is not something I can say about First Man, the most recent super famous person biopic I’ve seen). It wasn’t just that I wanted to know how the story played out. I was captivated by Lee.
Being captivated by Lee is something that I completely attribute to McCarthy’s performance. Lee Israel is not a very good person, and not someone you should like. But McCarthy infused her with such vitality and depth, you couldn’t help but feel sympathetic. Truly truly her greatest performance to date.
And it wasn’t the only great performance in the film. Her partner in crime (sometimes literally) was played by an effervescent Richard E Grant. The two played off each other beautifully, and he elevated a great film even more with his screen time.
I’m calling it now, we’ll be talking about this movie come Oscar season. Those two performances are absolutely worthy of nominations, and the adapted screenplay could potentially be in the running as well. All would be very well deserved.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/