Special Issues » SCAD Savannah Film Festival Issue

Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reveals complex female character

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It’s so hard to like Lee Israel’s character in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but it’s easy to feel bad for her.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the true story of Lee Israel, an out-of-work biographer played by Melissa McCarthy who begins forging letters by famous authors to turn a buck. She brings in friend John Hock, played by my new film crush Richard E. Grant.

The film is peppered with a few moments that beg sympathy for Israel, but it never piles it on. The compelling part about her bitchiness in the film is that it doesn’t seem to have a reason sometimes.

Sure, sometimes it’s folded in to her need to close others out, but there’s no softening by the end to indicate a lesson learned.

Israel’s character is one of the most complex female characters in recent memory. As producer Amy Nauiokas said later in a Q&A session, her complexity is thanks to a mostly female writing room.

“We want to see more real, non-one-dimensional women,” Nauiokas said.

In Can You Ever Forgive Me?, you get just that.

Check out our interview with Amy here.

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