I once heard somewhere that when life gives you lemons you make lemonade. I don’t know about you but the lemonade I make would only appeal to some people because I like way to much sugar in mine. I think life is like that for most, even if you make the lemonade it doesn’t mean anyone is going to like it. Being around people for some is a challenge, one that I have felt more often than I would care to admit, but I still try. For others that act of trying is tough and can affect you not only in your personal life, but also in your professional one as well, everyone given the choice would rather to have to deal with people they like.
Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is one of those people who doesn’t like the world and its inhabitants, well everyone except her cat. She is a writer trying to figure out her next book, a book very few would like to read. Not having something you are actively working on for a writer can be a difficult thing as that means you have no income coming in to support you. Which can then lead to you selling things and when Lee sells a letter she found from a famous person a light bulb goes off in her head as a scheme to catch her up on her bills. Soon Lee is creating new personal letters from famous writers and selling them as originals and in a way finding her own voice in becoming them. She doesn’t have many friends but soon picks up one in Jack (Robert E. Grant) who you would say is far from the voice of reason. Lee can’t stop her new income stream and even when she is flagged as someone who is selling fakes, she uses Jack to sell them instead. It is only when she hits rock bottom that she sees what she has become, but will the people she hurt ever forgive her for it?
Melissa McCarthy is always hit or miss for me, but from what I had seen, I knew this would be the McCarthy I like. Not many can play a person of this character and pull it off better than she can as she disappears in becoming Lee Israel. The story by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty takes you through the peaks and valleys of life with McCarthy delivering on all those emotions. While her performance is to behold, her character is a little bland and Grant’s character of Jack is just the right amount of life the film needs to avoid being all gloom and doom. Other than the two performances, nothing much stands out, but to me that was the purpose as most of life nothing really does outside our relationships with others. With its intriguing premise and the technical flawlessness of directing by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a good and honest look at the things we do to get by. Most of the time you go to the movies to escape life, but every once in a while a story comes along that reminds you what being alive is about.