In the countless of films I have seen, there have been a limited number of performances that I have never forgotten: Louise Rainer, “The Great Ziegfeld”, Audrey Hepburn, “Roman Holiday”, Katharine Hepburn, “Lion in Winter”, Maggie Smith, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”, Meryl Streep, “Sophie’s Choice”, Jane Fonda, “Klute”, Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”; Melissa McCarthy’s sublimely perfect portrayal of fraudulent author Lee Israel (1939-2014) will resonate forever as one of the most fervent, penetrating depictions I have ever seen; each scene, miniscule nuance, impeccable comedic timing is a treasure, a gift to viewers; rendering caustic, misanthropic, intellectual Ms. Israel, a personage audiences will cherish throughout millenniums.
We meet Lee in 1991; no longer surviving on her celebrity biographies (Dorothy Kilgallen, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder) serendipitously, while working on a biography of Fanny Brice, discovers and steals a genuine note written by Fanny, hence, leading to a career of celebrity embellishment, focusing on her favorite entertainment/literary icons. Her crony in crime, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant flamboyantly paired with McCarthy, is stupefying, sensational as an openly gay, self-deprecating partner); remarkable, startlingly mesmerizing, is their partnership.
Director Marielle Heller and screen writers Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty with perspicacity and grace fabricated one of the best films in recent years. But “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is a flawless diamond in Melissa McCarthy’s Filmic Crown; the intensity of its brightness, burns with beauty and brilliance.