Melissa McCarthy as “Lee Israel” and Richard E. Grant as “Jack Hock” in the film CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? Photo by Mary Cybulski. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Three quick notes about the SAG Award nominated, ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’

Not all, but most artists, after they establish they can throw fastballs in one genre, want to branch out and prove they do other things. Especially actors. Melissa McCarthy is one of our best working comediennes, of course she wants to prove she can do dramatic stuff. Even the comedic undertones here are toned way down so you have to focus on the acting. McCarthy carries the film without relying on over the top theatrics, can’t take that away from her.

Everyone wants to play the villain, but most people want to play the ‘cool vilain.’ Playing someone a little skeevy, and completely self-centered, and very unlikable: everyone doesn’t have the right ego to play that. So give Richard E. Grant credit for just going all in to play someone, not really evil, but just one of those completely self-centered types who knows how to play on other people’s sympathies to get over.

Finally, this whole film takes place in the NYC literary world. Doesn’t scream cinema, but beyond that as I was watching this, as a film geek, I thought that whole genre of films and TV shows that speak to ‘upper class Manhattan’ that a lot of us grew up on. No need to name names, but how much of that good work can we still just watch without thinking too hard about the people who created them? I say all of this to say, ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ isn’t a Hall of Fame movie by any means, but I can just watch it without thinking twice about any conflicting feelings about the author.

For that reason alone, recommend.