Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Rated 3.0

Pratfall queen Melissa McCarthy takes a stab at dramatic credibility by playing real-life writer and convicted counterfeiter Lee Israel in this middling biopic from director Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl). Once a semi-successful biographer, Israel had fallen on hard times by 1991, when she started creating fake letters from dead celebrities and selling them to gullible and greedy New York City booksellers to pay for her alcoholism and overdue rent. Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty adapted their literate but lumpy script from Israel’s cash-in memoir of the same name, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the film twists itself in knots to make Israel seem like the victim of her own crimes, but this mainly amounts to McCarthy moping around in a Kathy Geiss haircut. Meanwhile, Richard E. Grant easily steals the film as Israel’s even more mangy and amoral drinking buddy and partner in crime. D.B.