Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Critics Consensus

Deftly directed and laced with dark wit, Can You Ever Forgive Me? proves a compelling showcase for deeply affecting work from Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy.



Total Count: 290


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,786
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Movie Info

In CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?, Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer (and cat lover) who made her living in the 1970's and 80's profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Richard E. Grant).


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Critic Reviews for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

All Critics (290) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (284) | Rotten (6)

  • This film takes an altogether different view of the imitation game. By embracing frauds and failures, it achieves greatness on the sly.

    Feb 4, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The revelation of McCarthy's turn is that she's just allowed to be, without apology, without schmaltz.

    Feb 1, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • McCarthy is very good at showing how Lee's unpleasant bad temper and rudeness were not simply part of her psychological makeup: they were symptoms of existential panic.

    Jan 30, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Everything - performance, script, direction, cinematography - works in perfect concert.

    Jan 29, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • There are many films that portray the writing life, but not many that can be accused of realism. Anybody contemplating a literary career should be sat down and forced to watch Marielle Heller's Can You Ever Forgive Me?

    Dec 5, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? works, largely, because director Marielle Heller and screenwriter Nicole Holofcener approach this totally unlikeable character from a place of unconditional love and understanding.

    Nov 5, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

  • Mar 03, 2019
    Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant as terribly witty rejects who find each other moping in the dregs of self-medication in the bowels of New York City. As effective a personality study as you are ever to see, this work resonates long after the credits roll as an American Masterpiece Theater, an answer to the question: what happens to wasted talent in the Land Of Opportunity? Must see, and proof that New York City still has something to say.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2019
    Mad props to Melissa McCarthy for turning it around with this after Happytime Murders and Life of the Party. Actually after basically every single thing I've seen her in up until this point. I honestly can't think of a single role I've liked her in. Until Lee Israel of course, because as her, in this, McCarthy is great. Respect for Richard E. Grant in the supporting role as well. It took me a little while after I'd finished watching Can You Ever Forgive Me? to realise I liked it as much as I did, but I did.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 24, 2019
    Lee Israel is the perfect subject for a movie like this. You can't sensationalize the story because her crimes were so esoteric so you have to probe deeper and the results are far more fascinating. McCarthy and Grant are just terrific and the screenplay is filled with wit.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2019
    The impression I have is that this is a film struggling to find something to say with the material it has, but the result, however dull at times, manages to be enjoyable and interesting thanks to McCarthy and Grant, who are both too good and have an excellent chemistry together.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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