Can You Ever Forgive Me poster

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

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What it’s about:

After her career falters, a prickly, hard-drinking writer gets an eviction notice, and soon resorts to a lucrative, if fraudulent, new use for her talents…until the FBI gets on the case. Based on the early 1990s memoir by Lee Israel.

Names you might know:

Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant star, and look for McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, and legends Jane Curtin and Anna Deveare Smith.

Why it’s worth your time:

At first glance, Can You Ever Forgive Me? might seem like another true crime story. However, the movie depicts how imposter syndrome, loneliness, and extreme insecurity led author, Lee Israel, to forge letters written by famous writers. From a psychological point, the film highlights how taking on an ‘alter-ego’ made Israel feel special and capable, and how these very addictive feelings led her into a world of fraud and dishonesty.

The takeaway:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? addresses how poverty, desperation, and feeling invisible can seduce someone into creating a false reality, leading them to do unthinkable things. Digging beyond the story of Israel’s forgery, the film provides an in-depth look at how her inability to love others as well as herself led her down a path of criminal behavior – and how self-honesty ultimately helped her speak the truth.

Watch it with:

Anyone interested in psychology and how antisocial behavior can lead to self-destruction. Those working in creative fields may also relate to Israel’s struggle to land a book deal and earn a decent living.

Worth noting:

The movie touches on sensitive topics, such as alcoholism and substance use. A heavy film, it might not be the best choice if you’re looking for something more uplifting.

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