Melissa McCarthy stars in the adaptation of the memoir and true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack.
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Marielle Heller’s film, from Nicole Holofcener’s and Jeff Whitty’s screenplay, is an excellent evocation of the non-rich New York writer’s life, low-key, desperate, and drained of what once might have been comedy.
Can You Ever Forgive Me offers a feminist counter citation to Orson Welles’s pseudo-documentary F For Fake (1976). Whereas Welles generalised that “almost any story is almost certainly some kind of lie”, Heller’s film pushes this farther, underscoring the gendered dimensions of creative work by showing the impact of inequalities in the publishing industry on its central character.