Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
November 5, 2018 6:14 PM - Subscribe

When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. An adaptation of the memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel.
posted by latkes (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just adored this movie about real people being crap at life but just so worthy of love all the same. It was so lovingly specific, about New York, about queer culture in the early 90s, about dykes, and fags, and AIDS, about bullshit jobs and creativity and everything. So many delightful performances (I didn't even know it was Jane Curtain till the credits, but what a deliciously meaty little part that was!) Watching a movie fully about a woman, an unlikeable woman, who did bad shit, was a delight. Watching a movie about real queers, that was wholeheartedly queer, but that wasn't about their queerness, was a balm. I just loved this movie!

Melissa McCarthy really beautifully walked the line of making a deeply flawed character seem real but sneakily making her oh so charming. I just loved the scene where her ex is basically like, "Uh, no, I am not here for your shit", and as an audience we definitely agree with her, but we still like Lee Israel.

My one 'beef' I guess is that the real Lee Israel must have very much been a deeply New York Jew, and my wife was complaining that McCarthy's farm-girl midwest accent did not come across as New York, but she was just so damned charming in this I can't really complain. OK, I guess my only actual complaint was, was that a weird wig?? But otherwise, a total delight.
posted by latkes at 6:24 PM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Re: the wig, if you mean McCarthy's wig, I literally JUST NOW finished reading a whole review of that wig (well, of the film, via the wig) on the wonderful Wig Wurq tumblr (motto: "Judging pop culture's wigs from lace fronts to split ends.")

Recommended! And I am really looking forward to seeing the movie.
posted by theatro at 11:00 AM on November 6, 2018 [6 favorites]

So glad you posted that! OK, I guess I can grudgingly give the wig a little respect now, but come on Melissa, just cut your hair. It grows back!!
posted by latkes at 11:17 AM on November 6, 2018

I loved this movie. It's so unusual today to see people who have mostly "failed" by our culture's standards depicted onscreen with such love and compassion. There are people who have always dwelled in social and economic precariats (lots of overlap there) because of their sexuality, their frumpiness, their untidiness, their off-putting ways. (When you're always on the cusp of being "cancelled" socially, you might resort to antisocial tactics.) This film says that those people's stories are worthy of being told.

I was glad to see that the screenwriters refrained from partnering either character off at the end in typical Hollywood fashion, and I'm glad Israel got a second act out of her story, which I'm sure is smashingly written.

The audiobook of Israel's account of her scam is narrated by Jane Curtin! And apparently Julianne Moore was originally supposed to play Israel, but dropped out and was replaced by McCarthy. Nothing against Moore, but I'm really glad McCarthy got the part, because she is pitch perfect throughout.

Oh yeah : co-written and directed by women. No coincidence.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 7:30 PM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

The autograph and memorabilia dealers are totally uninterested in provenance!
She reminds me of the stories of famous art forgers who, criticized for lacking originality, used technical competence.
Israel's agent criticized her for disappearing under her subjects, but it was exactly that which made her successful.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:07 PM on May 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's so unusual today to see people who have mostly "failed" by our culture's standards depicted onscreen with such love and compassion.

This! I watched this a little while ago but forgot to check to see what Fanfare said about it. I adored it. I don't usually like sad movies but there was no glurge here, just raggedy edges and compassion.

McCarthy is wonderful, this makes use of her talents in the best possible way. The whole story just flowed naturally, even though it must have been constructed out of a lifetime of disconnected experiences. It's like the most uncool heist movie ever.
posted by harriet vane at 7:07 AM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

What a fantastic film! I just want to be with Israel and Hock for more time, and I say that despite Israel being such a misanthrope who obviously dislikes everyone and surely would dislike me. I’m just happy to be in the movie, with those characters, being down and out. In his li’l review for The Flophouse podcast, Elliott Kalan mentioned that he liked that the movie was just very upfront about being about some characters who happened to be a lesbian and a gay man - their sexuality wasn’t really part of the story in any big way, it was just there as part of their lives. That really resonated with me too, and I hope to see a lot more of that kind of thing in the future.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:05 PM on December 1, 2020

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