Critic Reviews



Based on 48 critic reviews provided by
McCarthy elevates the material at every opportunity, and whenever the camera lingers on her expressions, she’s a study in contradictions — tough and tender all at once, unsure which side of that spectrum to unleash.
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.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? comes from a place of understanding and love that few other biopics truly dive into, and it makes this difficult character a joy to meet.
Israel, as noted by her own writing, had a caustic wit that works with McCarthy’s comedic talents. She also brings a depth of emotion to Israel that comes to a head in a wonderfully composed scene with Grant at the end of the film.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?’s premise is so low-key outrageous, it would almost have to be true. And it is: a shaggy, endearingly dour portrait of the kind of true-life eccentric New York hardly seems to make anymore.
McCarthy and Grant’s rapport in these roles cannot be beat. Their caustic wit is mutual so each biting takedown is either appreciated or met by another in return.
McCarthy’s performance, which is paired with an equally rewarding turn by British actor Richard E. Grant, anchors this bizarre, compelling true story.
Director Marielle Heller is less interested in the machinations of Israel’s scheme as she is the psychology behind it, giving us a touchingly understated portrait of self-loathing and loneliness.
Sometimes the shagginess of the film can make it feel a bit slight and at times it does work better as a concentrated character study, but it’s such a joy to spend this time with McCarthy, drunkenly scheming and grumbling, that it’s hard to complain.
Richard E. Grant is captivating on his own, but his rapport with Melissa McCarthy is so effortless that their characters’ conversations offer deeper pleasures than the main plot of the film.

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