Can You Ever Forgive Me (2018) is a marvellous film based on writer Lee Israel’s real life dabble with literary forgery. Israel had fallen on hard times and began forging letters from great writers of the past; it proved lucrative for a while.
As a UK script consultant, script writer for hire and script doctor I always enjoy a good film about writing (Trumbo was the last good one I saw, and Dalton himself got in some criminal scrapes as a youth needing to pay the bills – read the book Trumbo is based on).
Melissa McCarthy is excellent as Israel but, a lot of the publicity around the film was based on the performance of Richard E Grant who plays Israel’s friend Jack Hock. Grant was Oscar nominated last year for the role, and he’s very funny in a way which echoes his greatest part – ‘Withnail’ in the classic British comedy Withnail and I.
Hock and Withnail have many familiarities; drink, hedonism, wit and finally sadness… At times, its feels like Grant is reviving an old friend, and it even feels something like a sequel to ‘Withnail and I’ – with Grant’s character popping up in New York, still looking for cheap booze and a warm place to stay the night. At least in New York his character would be far from all the mud and terrible ‘umscar’ in Penrith.
‘Can You Ever Forgive Me’ is a very good film, and I think it will grow over the years, like ‘Withnail and I’ did.
It’s almost ‘Israel and I’…
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on firstname.lastname@example.org or hire him on Peopleperhour
His directorial debut Markham will be released in 2019.