Can You Ever Forgive Me?

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It’s absolutely awards eye-candy, but what that now actually means is anyone guess

When he revealed that Can You Ever Forgive Me? was filmed over a short 26 day block in 2018, Richard E. Grant has offered great insight into the functionality of the film’s creation process. Originally billed to star Julianne Moore and Chris O’Dowd, the film took a u-turn, resulting in a new, more comedic style. The feature is by no means a flat out comedy, but there is a free flowing nature to the piece that comes solely from McCarthy and Grant’s rapport.

Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is an out of luck writer desperate to get a publishing contract for her next novel. Leaning back on more unique methods to find some extra funds in the mean time, Israel stumbles across some old letters written by famous authors. After embellishing one letter’s prose to raise its sell-on value, she discovers her uncanny ability to copy other’s writer’s sentence style, opening a whole new avenue for creating forged letters from absolute scratch.


There is a particularly quick, low-key and close nature to the production style, offering itself as a glancing and stylised look, rather than one of complete submersion in the story. The friendship Grant and McCarthy have outside of the opening and closing credits is evident in both interviews and the film itself. The natural nature of the entire picture stems from their friendship, and that becomes an absolute positive.

Rarely offering real excitement, Can You Ever Forgive Me? follows a predictable path that is certainly elevated by the wonderful performances, often leaving itself exposed in the scenes where only one of them appears. It doesn’t fail as a drama in these moments, but it certainly drops in overall quality.

Topped by a fitting style, and a love for its story, Can You Ever Forgive Me? never puts a foot wrong, but rarely steps from the beaten track.  It’s a biopic with a particular appeal, and a sharp wit, but possesses a style seen many times before with a particular lack of hunger for expression. It’s absolutely awards eye-candy, but what that now actually means is anyone guess


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