Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

DVD - 2019
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Lee Israel made her living in the 1970s and 1980s profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. Though Lee Israel has undeniable profiling skills, her work has grown stale and hackneyed, rendering her profession unnecessary and insignificant. Now in times of financial hardship, Israel must find other ways to make a living. With assistance from her steadfast friend, Jack, the two endeavor to keep Israel afloat. With a dose of trickery and deceptive eye, they do just that.
Publisher: Beverly Hills, CA : 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, [2019]
Edition: Widescreen version.
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (106 minutes) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.
4 3/4 in.,color
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 2.0
video file
DVD video
Region 1


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Jul 07, 2019

As a film buff, I found the acting believable and the story interesting though it's not in my opinion worth of awards. Melissa does a good job as does the rest of the cast and its certainly worth seeing for those who enjoy non-fiction. Prior to watching this I was completely unfamiliar with Lee Israel nor how she managed to sell forged letters to businesses who failed to verify the authenticity. Enjoy

Jul 03, 2019

Personally, I didn't care for it.

Jul 03, 2019

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?" is based on the strange but true story about the late New York writer Lee Israel. She was once successful, profiling celebrities of the caliber of Katherine Hepburn and Tallulah Bankhead. But by the dawn of the 1990s, times and tastes (and celebrities) have changed, and Lee's kind of writing has become passé.

"I was on the New York Times bestseller list," she angrily pleads to her long suffering editor, Marjorie (played with hard-boiled verve by Jane Curtin), "That ought to count for something!"

It doesn't. Nor, Marjorie points out, does Lee's abrasive personality. Her combativeness, and prickly unwillingness to schmooze and network--the cocktail parties, book tours and signings she disdains--have torpedoed the possibility of a shift to other kinds of publishing work.

Lee isn't interested in other kinds of work. She's a writer, and a damn good one, even if no one's buying anymore. But now this a fight for survival, not just pride. She is falling behind in her rent and having trouble affording life-saving medication for her sick cat, Jersey--apparently the only living creature she can allow herself to love unreservedly. Desperate, Lee resorts to forging the letters of witty legends of a bygone era, such as Noel Coward, Fanny Brice and Dorothy Parker, and then selling them to a series of unsuspecting New York booksellers who love these icons as much as she does.

And that is the crux of Lee Israel's dilemma, and her tragedy. Some of the bookish people she meets in the commission of her crimes are precisely the kind of friends she needs but can never have. They want to bond with Lee, and you can feel her wanting in spite of herself to bond with them, especially the lovely, lonely Anna. But her natural wariness and guilty awareness that she is deceiving them forces Lee to keep her distance. That leaves the charming, feckless Jack Hock (the delightful Richard E. Grant) as her only friend and eventual partner-in-crime. They are two of a kind yet polar opposites, and you wonder if Lee would have befriended Jack had she not been so isolated.

Melissa McCarthy, despite a number of comedic movie roles of varying quality, is still perhaps best known for her sparkling television work in the series "Mike and Molly." She is simply amazing in her portrayal of Lee. There's not a false note in her performance, for which she was justly nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. There is nothing remotely loveable about Lee Israel. She is self-pitying and snarky, and her social awkwardness teeters right on the edge of mental illness. Yet McCarthy's deft handling gives this difficult woman a vulnerability that at moments makes you ache for her.

Highly recommended--watch the movie once or twice and then watch again with the making-of commentary track enabled. The warm and funny conversation between actress McCarthy and director Marielle Heller absolutely illuminates the film.

Jun 25, 2019

When my husband brought this one home I was doubtful because the lead actress is in so many low brow B movies. This movie, for what it is, is well done, well acted and enjoyable. Other peoples lives, eeesh.

Jun 21, 2019

Ingenuity caused by desperation. Well done! She profited by other people's egos.

Jun 17, 2019

Very good true story. Her sentence was too light for defrauding the public with 400 fake letters. Shed was a thief. Don't look under her bed Yuk! Her gay friend played his roll well.
Comments at the end interesting. Both deserved the Oscar nominations.

Jun 09, 2019

This is a movie true story, drawing the viewer into a world of emotional depth because of the motivations of the plot itself. Does the end justify the means?
Desperation will in fact drive ordinary people into doing what had formerly been believed as "unlikely" or even "never possible."
The end movie info says Lee Israel created 400 false letters. Oooh. That is alot.

Melissa McCarthy was a nominee for best actress, year 2019 Academy Awards. (won by Olivia Colman in The FAVOURITE)

And, Witnessing betrayal and deceit is never comfortable.
It's a true story; and so is the betrayal that happens daily, in so many millions of places in the world.

Jun 08, 2019

Good movie about bad people. Some witty banter between thoroughly unlikable characters.

May 29, 2019

The movie follows the book pretty well. Melissa McCartney, and Richard E. Grant had great chemistry. Lee drank her talent and her life away. She was mostly unlikable, but, she was great to her cats.

May 29, 2019

I really do not understand these positive reviews. This movie is horrible and a waste of time!

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May 13, 2019


PS text at the end of the film:

Lee forged and sold approximately 400 letters. Two of Lee's forgeries were included in Noël Coward's 2007 biography. They were removed by the second printing. Nora Ephron sent a cease and desist letter to Lee, demanding that she stop impersonating her on the phone. When summoned for jury duty later in life, Lee replied: "I am a convicted felon and thereby ineligible to serve. Who said crime doesn't pay?" Jack Hock passed away on 10/19/94, having been lovingly looked after by members of the Gay Men's Health Crisis Center. The New York Times called Lee Israel's book: CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? : MEMOIRS OF A LITERARY FORGER a "sordid and pretty damned fabulous book."


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