When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.

Director:

Marielle Heller

Writers:

Nicole Holofcener (screenplay by), Jeff Whitty (screenplay by)
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Popularity
4,076 ( 508)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 53 wins & 98 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Melissa McCarthy ... Lee Israel
Richard E. Grant ... Jack Hock
Dolly Wells ... Anna
Ben Falcone ... Alan Schmidt
Gregory Korostishevsky ... Andre
Jane Curtin ... Marjorie
Stephen Spinella ... Paul
Christian Navarro ... Kurt
Pun Bandhu ... Agent Doyle
Erik LaRay Harvey ... Agent Solanas
Brandon Scott Jones ... Glen
Shae D'lyn ... Nell
Rosal Colon ... Rachel (as Rosal Colón)
Anna Deavere Smith ... Elaine
Marc Evan Jackson ... Lloyd
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Storyline

In the early 1990s, Lee Israel, a biographer with a modicum of writing success, has fallen on hard times largely of her own doing. Her choice of subjects is in general not of interest to today's book buying public, and she, in her only true friends being her aged cat Jersey and a scotch and soda in not really liking people and people in turn not really liking her, has burned bridges with everyone her agent Marjorie has built for her. She will have to start from the ground up again if she wants a writing career, as, hiding behind her subjects, the book buying public will not buy a "Lee Israel" on the strength of her name in not knowing who she is as a writer or person. This situation has led to her being months behind in rent as she spends whatever little money she has on alcohol and Jersey's medical needs. In doing research for her latest book on Fanny Brice - with no advance from Marjorie - and selling a cherished personal memento of a handwritten letter from Katharine Hepburn in ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Her greatest work will be her biggest crime.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including some sexual references, and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Richard E. Grant was recording an interview with Terry Gross for her National Public Radio program "Fresh Air" when Gross was the one who informed his that he had just been nominated for a SAG Award: "GROSS: I want to take a short break here and then talk with you some more. So if you're just joining us, my guest is Richard E. Grant. And he stars with Melissa McCarthy in the film Can You Ever Forgive Me? He won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for it, the San Diego Film Critics Society. Now he's nominated for a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award and others as well. Oh, you just got nominated for a SAG. My producer just told me you're nominated for a SAG Award. GRANT: Wow. Wow. That's amazing. GROSS: Did you not know that? GRANT: No, how would I know that? GROSS: Oh, congratulations! GRANT: I've been talking to you. Sorry, I'm talking to you, so I had no idea. Goodness me. Thank you. GROSS: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm taking you away from the big news. Do you want to check your phone for a second and see? GRANT: I'm sure my daughter might have texted me. Can I just... GROSS: Sure. (Laughter) Take a break. GRANT: Let's have a look. Oh, wow, and Melissa has got one too. That's fantastic. Wow. God, I'm absolutely thrilled. Goodness me. There's nothing like the approbation of your own peers. GROSS: No, no. I know. I know. GRANT: Wow. You've got me at a emotional moment here. I never thought this would happen to me. Thank you. GROSS: Now that we've heard that good news, we're going to take the real break (laughter). And after we take a short break, I'll be back with Richard E. Grant. This is FRESH AIR." See more »

Goofs

When Lee is seen walking toward the 86th Street subway station, she passes the Citibank branch at 86th and Broadway, with an advertisement for Citi Priority Banking in the window. Citi Priority did not exist until 2016. See more »

Quotes

Lee Israel: Give me one good reason why that cocky shit gets three million dollars and you can't give me ten thousand? Are you that bad of an agent?
Marjorie: Toni, could you please close the door? Miss Israel have some sensitive business to discuss.
Lee Israel: Yeah, God forbid you have to hear an adult conversation, Toni!
Marjorie: I'll give you three reasons. Number one, Tom Clancy is famous.
Lee Israel: Oh, here we go!
Marjorie: Yes, you have written a couple of successful biographies and you've managed to disappear behind your subject matter. But because of ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

As the closing credits start, they move to the left side of the screen and information about the protagonists appears on the right. See more »

Alternate Versions

Ahead of the film's release in Australia, the distributor chose to pre-cut the film in order to obtain an M classification. These changes removed detail of hard drug misuse (cocaine snorting) through re-framing, and also removed the film's sole use of very strong language by re-dubbing the term with a milder phrase. The uncut international version was later approved for a DVD/Video release with an uncut MA15+ classification. See more »

Connections

References Giant (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Illusions
Written by Friedrich Hollaender (as Frederick K. Hollander)
Performed by Marlene Dietrich
Courtesy of Arkadin Chansons
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User Reviews

 
Melissa shines

Melissa McCarthy has created a character, in her career that could keep her in lucrative employment without taking any risks.

Kudos to her for playing this risky a role, and pulling it off with aplomb. Richard E Grant is whimsy to her determination, but she successfully breathes life into a complex character.

Great film


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 November 2018 (South Africa) See more »

Also Known As:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$161,510, 21 October 2018

Gross USA:

$8,803,865

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$12,442,161
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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