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
4,826 ( 208)
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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Melissa McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone, was attached to the project before she was. He recommended her for the lead when another actor backed out. See more »

Goofs

When Lee is seen walking toward the 86th Street subway station, a sidewalk fruit stand is seen in the background. Fruit vendors were not common in New York until 2008, when the city's Green Carts program was implemented. See more »

Quotes

Lee Israel: This is a celebratory drinking session, not a wallowing one.
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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 Larry King Live (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Charade
Written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
Performed by Blossom Dearie
Courtesy of Blue Note Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

 
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
21 October 2018 | by rockman182See all my reviews

I usually don't end up liking Melissa McCarthy films. She is usually in comedies directed by her husband that aren't funny and have nothing good going for it. I was intrigued in seeing her take on a more serious role and one based on an actual biographical person than a made up "funny" person. I never heard of Lee Israel or the case of her forgery and all the stuff she got away with so I wanted to learn more about this. I enjoyed this film. Its not anything that's gonna stick out when the year ends but for a one time watch its fine, and I can finally say I enjoyed a McCarthy performance quite a bit.

The film is about the real life story of down out of luck biographical author, Lee Israel. Her books aren't doing well and she finds it hard to find inspiration. She can't afford rent or veterinarian care for her sick cat. She decides to forge letters signed and typed up by famous entertainment personalities. At first she finds the scam to be lucrative but eventually the buyers become suspicious and the FBI get involved. The film basically tells the tale of her forgery, until she gets caught, and the aftermath.

McCarthy does a good job here. She doesn't completely disappear into the role but its a believable performance that showcases her best qualities. The film is proficient in mixing comedy with humor and brings forth a rather intriguing plot in a way that keeps you engaged. I already liked Marielle Heller as The Diary of a Teenage Girl was a really interesting and well made film as it was. I think she finds a penchant for storytelling that mixes humor and drama well.

Its easy to see why something like this would have been easy to get away with in an earlier time. Its an idea people wouldn't easily think of. Crime doesn't pay, after a while anyways. If you want to see a solid biopic and an even more solid Melissa McCarthy performance then this is your film. its not anything amazing but its a generally interesting tale about a shady author that you may not have known about.

7/10


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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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