For all of you who lost your confidence in Melissa McCarthy when you realized she wasn’t the “life of the party” anymore, maybe she can win you back with this sympathetic portrayal.
It’s sure as hell not Bridesmaids, but Can You Ever Forgive Me? will nab her a second Oscar nomination for playing beaten, downtrodden, alcoholic writer Lee Israel.
The bombastic looks and excited demeanour have washed off McCarthy’s face completely here, and yet, this dramatic role about a real-life woman who forged literary letters to climb out of a financial hole is her best work ever.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? encapsulates the tormented ideals of a writer, their struggles to make a living, and the volcanic tempers that flare when ego and talent don’t quite align.
Israel was an interesting — albeit troubled — human, and McCarthy plays her with subtle nuance and incredible depth. She’s so good here you forget she’s also the woman responsible for this August’s The Happytime Murders, one of the worst films of the decade.
Her chemistry with Richard E. Grant, playing her gay, foul-mouthed accomplice Jack Hock, is among the best tandems I’ve seen all year. Their one-two punch performances will hit you. Hard. It explores the nuances of friendships — toxic and otherwise — in a way not often seen on-screen.
The script is among the best of the year, and McCarthy elevates the material with every tantrum, but also every second of quiet contemplation. She’s a curmudgeon whose disdain for people is only beat out by her loneliness, and the complexities of that is worn all over the actress’s face.
This is a triumph, and a film you won’t soon forget, whether you can forgive the actions of Israel or not.