Melissa McCarthy’s stretching her acting muscles and here’s everything you need to know…
Spoilers to follow.
What’s it about?
Lee Israel, essentially. Based on the writer’s own memoir, this is the story of Israel’s descent into crime after the publication of her critically panned Estée Lauder biography led her down the path to alcoholism.
Set seven years after the book’s release, the film follows Israel as she comes to appreciate the financial potential of producing forged letters, allegedly by deceased writers and actors, to sell on.
Israel is said to have sold over four hundred letters before being found out. Some were fakes, others stolen. This is a story of arrogance and wasted potential and yet also of unlikely relationships.
Who’s in it?
Having been accused of frittering her talents on crass comedies – most recently: The Happytime Murders – Melissa McCarthy shines here in a role initially warmed for Julianne Moore. McCarthy came to the role after Moore dropped out and her husband Ben Falcone, who co-stars in the film, recommended her.
Also accruing fame for his work in the film is Richard E. Grant. Here, the Withnail and I star plays Jack Hook, a friend of Israel who agrees to sell her forgeries when she finds herself blacklisted.
Jane Curtin appears as Israel’s cutting agent Marjorie, while there are roles too for Dolly Wells, Anna Deavere Smith and Stephen Spinella.
Who’s made it?
Working from Israel’s own confessional memoir, Can You Ever Forgive Me has been penned for screens by Every Secret Thing‘s Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, the Tony award winning writer of Avenue Q.
Whilst Holofcener was originally named as the film’s prospective director, it was Marielle Heller who stepped to the fore when production began. Heller is actor and writer who drew acclaim in 2015 for her directorial debut The Diary of a Teenage Girl.
Music for the film has been written by Nate Heller – Marielle’s younger brother – whilst Anne McCabe edits and Brandon Trost is behind the cinematography.
The film has been produced by Anne Carey and Amy Nauiokas – both of 20th Century Women – as well as David Yarnell.
Is it an awards contender?
Perhaps not so much as some would like but Can You Ever Forgive Me is just about in the awards conversation.
McCarthy and Grant have picked up a clutch of awards between them from various critic circles, whilst the film itself was well received by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
At the Golden Globes, neither McCarthy nor Grant won in their categories and success feels similarly unlikely – given the competition – at the BAFTAs in a few weeks time, where the film is also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.
While the Oscar nominations are yet to be announced, if the film were to squeeze into the Best Picture line-up, it would likely be the only one to have come from a female director.
When’s it out?
Can You Ever Forgive Me lands in UK cinemas on 1 February 2019.
Watch the trailer here: