Can You Ever Forgive Me?

2018, Drama, In English, 107 minutes


This biographical film, written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, is about writer Lee Israel. Once successful, she now hasn’t been able to keep up with the times. One by one her books are rejected by publishers. Lee now has serious financial problems, writer’s block and alcoholism. Marjorie, her agent, consoles Lee by blaming problems writers are having on the Internet. When doing some research for a book about Fanny Brice, Lee finds an old letter Brice wrote. Lee takes it to Anna, a bookstore owner she knows, who offers Lee a very low price  explaining that the letter is simply not that interesting. Lee gets an inspiration: why not forge letters from deceased actors, writers and playwrights, and fill them  with juicy intimate and scandalous details. Such letters should indeed fetch good money. When one of her letters raises suspicion, Lee is blacklisted by the dealers. However, she hooks up with a flamboyant drug dealer, Jack Hock, who becomes her “front” for selling these  forged letters. Jack is caught by the FBI during one his sales, he implicates Lee, and Lee is tried. At the trial, during her testimony, Lee does not regret her actions. She only regrets that her  forgeries did not reflect her true writing talent. Of course, it would not be right to reveal the court’s decision.

Melissa McCarthy (Lee Israel) / Richard E. Grant ( Jack Hock) / Dolly Wells (Anna) / Jane Curtin (Marjorie)
Why Stream This Film?
The film is based on the confessional memoir, of the same name, by Lee Israel. The book is a success. Finally. Lee is saved. But until then, seeing this film, you will be observing a person’s desperate life, one in total disarray and spiraling out of control.  However you will also be seeing Melissa McCarthy in one of the most outstanding performances of the year. 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 98%
  • Metacritic Score: 87
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Actress (Melissa McCarthy); Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant); Best Screenplay (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)
  • National Board of Review: Winner, Top 10 Films
  • New York Film Critics Circle: Winner, Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant)
  • Boston Society of Film Critics: Winner, Best Actress (Melissa McCarthy);  Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant); Best Screenplay (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)

Now streaming on:

In an impressive departure, comic genius Melissa McCarthy tries her hand at a new kind of character, bringing warmth to her portrayal of a prickly New York writer turned forger. But it’s the human side of the character that makes this McCarthy’s best performance to date, revealing haunting insights into friendship, loneliness, and creative insecurity. That it does so from a uniquely female perspective is a bonus at this particular moment.

Peter Debruge

Lee Israel may be the single most interesting movie character you will encounter this year, which is not to say that she’s altogether pleasant company. It had been a while since a world-class, life-size misanthrope like Lee has commanded the screen—not another brooding narcissist or a showily difficult cable TV antihero, but a smart, cranky human recognizably made of flesh and blood. Also whiskey, bile, and typewriter ink. Lee is a 3-D grouch of a whole different order.
A.O. Scott

The New York Times

The range in McCarthy’s performance cannot be overstated. At almost every turn, her character gives the audience plenty of reason not to like her. Yet, with director Heller’s sympathetic approach and McCarthy’s acting, the movie humanizes her beyond caricature. CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? is at once a low-stakes crime drama, a buddy comedy, a period piece and a loving tribute to a woman who at this point in her life and career did not feel loved.
Monica Castillo



In 1945, shortly after World War II ended, an Orthodox Jew, Sámuel Hermann, and his son, return to their home village in rural Hungary…

read more
3 Faces 

3 Faces 

Behnaz Jafari is a popular actress in Iran. She sees a video of a young girl, Marziyeh, pleading for help to escape the stifling restrictions of her conservative family…

read more

If you found this site helpful, please recommend it to a friend. We also welcome your comments. / call 917-439-3364

P.O. Box 20038
New York, N.Y. 10075


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Get weekly streaming recommendations delivered directly to your inbox

Kanbar Recommends—join our free mailing list to receive weekly selections of the best TV shows and movies available.

You have Successfully Subscribed!