CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? Will Melissa McCarthy Gain Another Oscar Nomination?

Kernel Claire had the honour of reviewing CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?, the latest film from Melissa McCarthy, that is much more dramatic than her usual fair. This true story could see McCarthy up for an Oscar nomination. While Claire reviews, both Kernel Jack and myself have also seen it and are mostly in agreement with Lady Claire, our scores join hers at the bottom of this review. The film is more a literature dramedy than her usual, joke pulp comedies. I really would like to see her do more in this direction, as long as she throws in some occasional humour. My only gripe was it dragged about a third in and I thought it was going to be terrible but the last half of the movie is outstanding with her courtroom speech being Oscar worthy. And that cat scene destroyed me, having been there myself. 

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? is out this Thursday Dec 6th in Australia from 20th Century Fox. It is rated M and runs for 106mins. Enjoy Claire’s wonderful review………….happy popcorn munching…………Salty.


Can You Ever Forgive Me Movie Melissa McCarthy image
Melissa McCarthy




Failing writer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy – Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids), once on the New York Times’ best seller list has failed to produce successful recent work. Her publisher won’t grant her a book advance on her next book and Israel is falling behind on rent and expenses. While researching for her next biography, Israel uncovers a personal letter from the author in a library book. She pockets it and takes it to the local book collectors for cash. The store clerk pays cash in hand with an aside comment that better content would gain more money. 

Thus begins Lee Israel’s journey into letter forgery for profit.  Israel forms elaborate ways of replicating and recreating stationery and letters used by famous authors and penning her own words onto them in order to sell at high price to collectors. Word of forged letters makes it through collectors circles and soon the FBI is looking for the author behind these fakes.


Can You Ever Forgive Me Movie Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant image
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant



It’s refreshing to see McCarthy in a serious role of this calibre. Although her poverty and struggle is a depressing subject to watch, McCarthy brings something endearing and human to quite a selfish character. The light touches of comedy relief shine through for McCarthy and she’s believable and engaging as the struggling writer. Her struggles feel real and her performance is truthful and engaging. It’s a stellar performance by the usually comedic actress. 

Richard E. Grant plays Jack Hock, a conniving, stone-broke ex-colleague of Israel’s. Jack Hock and Lee Israel unexpectedly run into each other at a bar and together begin working on their forgery-for-profit business. 

Hock’s an interesting character, but something about Grant’s performance in this work was off kilter. It felt like he was just reciting the lines instead of living the performance as the fellow struggling writer. He just wasn’t believable – his delivery felt staccato and unconvincing. As though his heart wasn’t in it. 

The problem seemed to be the chemistry between Grant and McCarthy. The intention of their friendship was a vivacious, lively bravado between the pair, but it just wasn’t there. His performance unintentionally brought down the fourth wall because it felt like recitations from a script-reading instead of a character being driven to say these lines. 


Can You Ever Forgive Me Movie Melissa McCarthy image
Melissa McCarthy


Grant had some excellent chemistry with a bit-part character for a mild onscreen love interest. So it seems the role was not entirely out of his wheel-house but it begs the question if perhaps him and McCarthy didn’t get along offscreen. His performance isn’t enough to ruin the film overall, but it is noticeable and it does pull the audience away from the story. 

The supporting cast is too numerous to mention, but fans of 90’s show THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN will recognise Dr Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) as Israel’s Agent. Keep an eye out for previously mentioned love interest Christian Navarro from Netflix’s original series 13 REASONS WHY. And of course it wouldn’t be a McCarthy movie without at least a cameo from her husband Ben Falcone. 

Worth Mentioning:

In the final few scenes we see an outstanding performance from McCarthy recapping the events that have brought us up to this point. It’s a soliloquy worthy of repeating and just a fantastic display of McCarthy’s range. 

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? is very New York themed. My Salty guest to the screening commented that it’s similar to a Woody Allen film but without the dry witticisms. The overall mood of the film, and the prop/set stylings are as NYC as a coffee and a bagel by the Statue of Liberty. 


Can You Ever Forgive Me Movie Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant image
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant



CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? is the very definition of “Product as described.” Watch the trailer to suss it out. If the trailer interests you you’ll enjoy the film. It’s as simple as that. The film is excellently made, truly engaging and wonderfully scripted. Just be sure to budget for a book purchase after the film – you’ll want to read it after seeing this. 








Kernel Claire retired from the Salty Popcorn cob in 2014 with full honors, but was lured back to the shine of the silver screen and the Salt of the Popcorn a mere four years later. When not hand-modelling for Kernel Jason’s food-reviews, Claire can be found scootering through Sydney at a reasonable, defensive driving speed; or fussing far too much over her little black rescue cat Baxter. Claire has worked in the Australian Cinema Industry for over 13yrs and loves it the most when she can report “sometimes I get paid to watch movies”. She’ll pretty much attend any event that includes a lanyard.