Melissa McCarthy is earning the best reviews of her career for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which just premiered at Telluride, certainly since her Oscar-nominated performance in Bridesmaids.
Veteran British actor Richard E. Grant is also earning stellar praise and could be on his way to his first Oscar nomination. Director Marielle Heller and writer Nicole Holofcener join McCarthy and Grant with outstanding notices and awards-worthy ink.
Here is a sampling of the reviews:
Melissa McCarthy has shown the potential for a role that deepens her screen presence for some time, but her brash, rambunctious performances have been restricted to broad comedies that usually fall short of exploring what such a character might be like under more realistic circumstances. At long last, she’s landed the right opportunity with “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, director Marielle Heller’s charming melancholic comedy about real-life writer-turned-criminal Lee Israel, who forged some 400 letters by dead celebrities and pawned them off until the FBI caught up with her scheme.
As some pundit once observed, every comic secretly yearns to play Hamlet, which of course is an oversimplification. And yet funny men and women have often made the journey to dramatic roles, with mixed results. Melissa McCarthy is the latest to veer from her customary image, in a surprisingly rewarding dramedy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which had its world premiere in Telluride and will be released by Fox Searchlight this fall. McCarthy’s performance, which is paired with an equally rewarding turn by British actor Richard E. Grant, anchors this bizarre, compelling true story. After a couple of recent misfires, this picture will remind viewers of McCarthy’s undeniable talents.
Dowdy, half-soused, and frowning for nearly the entire running time, McCarthy earns nearly as many laughs playing this curmudgeonly cat lady as she does in her more irrepressible comedic parts. But, of course (and this is why critics love watching cut-ups reveal their more introspective side), it’s the human side of the character that makes this McCarthy’s best performance to date, revealing haunting insights into friendship, loneliness, and creative insecurity. The fact that it does so from a uniquely female perspective is a bonus at this particular moment.
McCarthy has rarely shown off her dramatic talents before, but it goes without saying she’s quite good here. Israel, as noted by her own writing, had a caustic wit that works with McCarthy’s comedic talents. She also brings a depth of emotion to Israel that comes to a head in a wonderfully composed scene with Grant at the end of the film.