For some time, Melissa McCarthy has been Hollywood’s go-to comedic actress. But her role in Bridesmaids (for which she was Oscar-nominated) and the films that followed only just scratch the surface of her on-screen abilities. In the upcoming Can You Ever Forgive Me?, McCarthy shifts gears from the style of humour she’s become known for and embodies a uniquely complex, melancholic character in a role that critics suggest places her in Oscar contention.
In the film, McCarthy portrays real-life writer-turned forger Lee Israel, whose successful early career included a notable profile of Katharine Hepburn and a best-selling biography of journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When a disastrous 1985 book about cosmetics queen Estée Lauder sends Israel into a tailspin that becomes utter despair and desperation by the early 1990s, a stroke of wicked genius leads to Israel forging letters by deceased actors and writers.
The film’s Australian Premiere will see a spectacular close to the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival, and will be followed by a Closing Night Gala Party. Tickets are available now.
Peter Debruge, Variety
“Dowdy, half-soused, and frowning for nearly the entire running time, McCarthy earns nearly as many laughs playing this curmudgeonly cat lady as she does in her more irrepressible comedic parts. But, of course (and this is why critics love watching cut-ups reveal their more introspective side), 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.” Read the full review.
Sasha Stone, The Wrap
“No comic can be such a skilled reader of human foibles and not have a serious actress lurking beneath the facade of humor. McCarthy, like so many comedians, clearly knows pain. As flawed as her Lee Israel is, as cruel as she can sometimes be, it’s impossible not to remain on her side, not to feel for her by the film’s end. Her Lee is hard to like, but even harder to dislike.” Read the full review.
Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter
“The movie allows McCarthy to take advantage of her gift for deadpan humor, but the actress also achieves some poignant moments that she has not often demonstrated. And she achieves impressive rapport with her co-stars.” Read the full review.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“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 dizzying to watch her world fall apart as she scrambles to hold the scraps together. She keeps searching for an outlet in all the wrong places, suffering through the sting of realization that she’s screwed up all over again, and you can’t help but root for her to succeed again.” Read the full review.