A REALLY Unlikable Performance by Melissa McCarthy
I understand that writers are already supposed to be naturally introverted, but McCarthy's portrayal as author Lee Israel is borderline coma territory. She is unlikable, unrepeatable and as dry as Nevada in June. I was all set for a rousing look into the field of journalism and plagiarism, but instead got a sleepwalking version of a day in the life of a loser who lives with cats.
The plot- if you can call it that- centers around Israel's desperation to sell pieces of her work to make ends meet. Because nobody likes her (and we can see why in the first two minutes of the movie), she hatches a plan with fellow friend and alcoholic Richard E Grant to sauce up some letters written by famous people, like Katharine Hepburn. Because the narrative in the film is so scattered, there's no focus on how these events unfold. Much of the time we get McCarthy cursing out some bookkeeper for not paying her a few hundred dollars and then slamming on to the next scene.
(SPOILERS)- Some deaths happen, including Lee's cat. That was sad- but unexplained. She returns to her trashed apartment, and Grant apologizes and then walks away guilty. Did HE murder the cat? Grant himself is dying of something (AIDS we presume since this is the 90s). He's also not very likable, and whilst McCarthy gives a performance worthy of some accolades, Grant is totally useless and did not deserve the praise - or Oscar nomination - for his rather unhinged character that doesn't seem to know what's going on.
The conclusion: She gets caught of course. But no prison time. Just some community service and she has to pay back the debts to the vendors she lied to. I was so inexplicably nuanced by the time the credits rolled that I forgot to be relieved when the story finally ended.
This is a dark, vanilla film with no ounce of humor or integrity. If you want to watch a movie about plagiarism in the newsroom, rent Shattered Glass (2003) about a journalist who literally makes stuff up to get acclaim from his boss (Peter Sarsgaard) and then later bites the big one. Great character development, swift moving plot, and intelligent dialogue. Everything Can You Ever Forgive Me? Sorely lacks.
FINAL GRADE: D