Film Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an enjoyable comedy drama. The film is often funny, and at times moving.

Writer Lee Israel is down on her luck. After losing her job, and with her agent less than interested in her next project, Lee needs money fast. She stumbles on an unorthodox method of raising cash…

Directed by Marielle Heller based on a screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the real story of Lee Israel and her forgery of literary letters. The film focuses on aspects around this; Heller’s film is not a straightforward biopic. The narrative establishes the character and her circumstances in reasonable time. The first sequence is great; Heller gives a succinct summary of the protagonist in this one scene.

Lee Israel a very watchable character. Partly, this is due to her caustic personality; she is amusing in her bluntness. But there is more to Lee than this. The film offers a well-rounded depiction; a protagonist to root for in spite of her flaws. Her relationship with Jack develops nicely. These two characters play well off each other, and show another side to Lee.

There is a caperesque tone to Can You Ever Forgive Me? which is most enjoyable. Whilst she is committing crimes, there is a skill to her rouse which endears. Humour can be found throughout the film. Dialogue is superb, as are the contents of some of the forged letters. There is an emotional core to the picture that takes a little while to develop. However this is convincing, and there are some moving scenes, particularly in the final third. 

Heller’s depiction of New York in the the early 1990s is heady. The bookshops, the sidewalks, the dingy bars of Manhattan are all evocative. There is a nostalgia factor for sure, but it seems authentic. The jazz soundtrack is a great accompaniment.  Melissa McCarthy delivers a solid performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me?; it is great to see her in a more subdued role. Richard E. Grant injects energy and charm in the role of Jack.

Heller has delivered an endearing portrait of an intriguing character with Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

Film Review: Enough Said

Enough Said

Nicole Holofcener’s romantic comedy drama is funny, poignant and entertaining. Enough Said is a brilliant movie.

Divorced masseuse Eva worries about her daughter impending departure for college. At a party, Eva meets Albert, a man in the same position as her. As their romance blossoms, Eva finds herself being influenced by the words of a particular client…

The story of Enough Said is straightforward enough. It is how the characters are built and how the narrative is crafted which makes Holofcener’s film so great.

The narrative unfolds at a good pace. It never drags, or feels rushed. The story is crafted so that the relationships develop in a natural manner, and feel more authentic as a result.

Both the two protagonists and the supporting characters are rendered three dimensional thanks to solid writing in Enough Said. The script is on point; the film offers frequent laughs. Nonetheless, the tone can easily shift into drama. The film features some poignant scenes which may cause a few tears.

The themes that Holofcener’s film engages in work in a universal fashion. Viewers do not need to identify with the exact situation that Enough Said presents in order to empathise with the characters. Although the main focus is on the relationship between Eva and Albert, the relationship between Eva and her daughter, and indeed her daughter’s friend, is given as much care and attention.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is absolutely fantastic as Eva. She excels at humour, but is just as convincing in the more emotional scenes. Her expressions give the character a sense of quirkiness. The late James Gandolfini is well cast as Albert, while Toni Collette provides good support as Sarah.

Enough Said is one of the better romance films of recent years. A satisfying watch.

Enough Said is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival, and is on general release from 18th October 2013.