Bad Boys for Life
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I enjoy seeing stories that I knew nothing about. Very good performances.
My worries when it comes to portraying the life of a real figure who was full of self loathing and could not connect to those around them is that plot contrivances will make them a less interesting person than they actually were. Most of us are not the sort of characters we root for in films as we have lied, cheated or stolen at some point in our lives and are socially inept in our own minds even if we have many friends. I was pleased that this film did not have that problem as it fully engages with the main character and all of her callousness without making us disconnect from her and the journey that she goes on.
Lee Israel, Melissa McCarthy, works as a writer of celebrity biographies but her agent is not interested in selling her Fanny Brice biography and she struggles to pay her rent. In order to make money she decides to sell a handwritten letter she owns that was written by Katharine Hepburn. When trying to sell the letter she realizes that it is not interesting enough to fetch a high price and adds a small note at the end of it that allows her to earn enough money to pay her rent. She then begins forging complete letters from various celebrities including Noel Coward and Dorothy Parker and is able to sell them for increasing larger sums. This makes it easier for her to afford things that she needs but also indulges her friend Jack Hock, Richard E. Grant, who treats her poorly and uses her to support himself. Her forgeries are eventually discovered and after she asks Hock to sell a real letter stolen from an archive he turns her in when discovered and she is put on probation and forced to attend AA.
You expect the film to do one thing and it does another. I thought that I was going to see Israel completely destroyed and humiliated and she was going to end up in prison where she expressed regret for her crimes and ended up a better person as a result. Instead the film makes her humiliation appear on a smaller scale as she is ashamed of the fact that somebody she had sold letters to and who tried to open up to her discovered her lies. Due to her crimes she will never be able to connect to this woman on an emotional level and will have to think about the fact that she hurt a woman she believed to be kind. Yet she admits to not feeling regret for having forged the letters and her change is small as she does not appear to recover from he alcoholism but lets go of Hock and tries to reconcile with her ex-girlfriend. This is a thorny, troubled woman who refuses to go through a traditional character arc and the film trusts it's audience enough to let them make conclusions about where Israel ended up on their own.
A lot of the film's emotional intelligence comes from director Marielle Heller who treats Israel with care but not with kid gloves and includes scenes of her simply hanging out with the manipulative Hock that would have been cut out of a lesser film. The two of them drink alcohol and abuse people over the phone and you start to understand why Israel would be turned away from her agent's party as she cannot function properly in social situations. Both Hock and Israel find a person who will let them indulge their worst habits and when together they are loud, drunken and angry people who enjoy abusing those around them. Heller is smart to spend more time showing how self destructive Israel is than wasting scenes on going into the semantics behind her forging or what draws her to Coward in particular. She understands what makes Israel such an interesting, complex woman and focuses on those parts of her life and we respond accordingly as we feel an odd kinship with this side of Israel.
Anchoring the whole film is a great performance from McCarthy who is a great comedic talent but shows that she has dramatic abilities beyond what we expected from her. She is a woman full of bluster and repressed anger and the slow build of tension in most scenes as we see her breakdown and fail to present herself as a functioning human being in public. Her nerviness around the people she wants to impress is saddening to watch as she wants them to like her but also has the desire to protect herself and bats off their advances when they come. She does not have a big "Oscar Clip" scene as most Best Actress nominees do but is spellbinding throughout and completely loses herself in the role. Grant is fun as the best friend and comes across as a faded version of his character in Withnail and I (1987) with that mischievous charm coming through.
The film received the most recognition for it's performances and it's screenplay but almost every element of the film is fantastic and should be treated as one of the best of 2018.
Because I always knew Melissa McCarthy to play the corky, fun, best friend next door type of characters, I was really interested in seeing this movie, after watching a news story on The Today Show on how she was originally trained in playing dramatic parts, so I wanted to see what she did with this character. And I was amazed on how she truly brought this mean spirited, ruthless, bitter, self centered criminal back to life/
I didn't think this would be my kind of film however I was extremely impressed with it. Great' almost true' story and super performances from the actors.
McCarthy is great as the lead role but unfortunately the film’s dull pacing felt like reading a 200 page epilogue.
Amazing story told with mastery. A breathtaking story that goes deep into the facts portrayed amazingly by Grant and McCarty, giving us all the illusion of being watching the real for all the time. Last, but not least, this picture is directed and written with heart, so it explains its beauty. Simply amazing and mind-blowing.
I am a big fan of Melissa McCarthy and her comedic genius. However, after watching this film she has shown she can play a dramatic role equally as brilliantly. There is great chemistry between Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant in this film which only makes it more fun to watch. The writing, acting and directing all come together to make for a great watch!
A movie that revolves around literary forgery is bound to repel some potential viewers, but it will be to their detriment. I loved this film and am excited to see Melissa McCarthy, who plays protagonist Lee Israel, take up more dramatic roles — however, McCarthy still delivers with a dry, dark sense of humor in this one. Although there are definitely thrilling moments concerning her crimes, the real joy of the film is the relationship between Israel and Jack Hock, portrayed exquisitely by Richard E. Grant. I haven't seen Green Book yet, but Mahershala Ali must've been fantastic to win Best Supporting Actor over Grant. I can best describe Can You Ever Forgive Me? as "New York City in the Winter," it's part depressing, part beautiful.
This was a terrific film. It was short enough that the super dramatic points never felt tiring. By the end it didn't feel like a biopic. I learned about the woman, but it felt like a study of loneliness and falling short.
Marielle Heller's Can You Ever Forgive Me? stars Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel who passed away five years ago, and she plays a writer desperate to make a living and support her cat, and she figures out a quite unconventional way to do this: forge letters. After she sells one, a downward(or upward, depending on your point of view) spiral into a spanning of crimes begins to form. She writes letter after letter, seamlessly manipulating collectors, brokers, and store managers as she leaves them in her inky wake.
The clocks of the typewriter adds to the ferocious writer's block that Lee deals with throughout the film, and the times she doesn't have it are the times where it's overpowered by pure necessity. To support her cat, herself, and she has to get back on her feet. The tension in some scenes is masterfully done, and McCarthy was STELLAR here. Back in 2018, when I heard the awards talk about her, I was definitely skeptical, but I now understand just how good she is. She truly was great. There are a few scenes that showed her pure talent, like sad scenes or even accepting and coming to terms with her new profession.
The camera glides throughout the film, never feeling solemn, but never glorifying what McCarthy is doing. It remains somewhat impartial, even though we do definitely side with McCarthy. And that's another thing, the directing is top notch. Even better here than ABDITNBH, Heller's tour de force direction is some of the best of that year because she builds a story that pushes you to care for a character that at first seems very apathetic toward society and hard to like in general. But because of Heller's direction, the cinematography, and McCarthy's excellent performance, Lee Israel remains a lovable, powerful character in a quite powerful movie. I prefer this over A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.