A film by Marielle Heller. In English with German subtitles.
Following the critical and commercial failure of her biography of Estée Lauder, author Lee Israel struggles with financial troubles, writer’s block and alcoholism. With her agent unable to secure her an advance for a new biography, Israel is forced to sell her possessions to cover her expenses; she sells a personal letter she received from Katharine Hepburn to Anna, a local book dealer.
While conducting research for a novel about Fanny Brice, Israel happens upon a letter from Brice folded in a book, which she takes and offers to sell to Anna. She offers Israel a low price due to the letter’s lack of interesting content. Israel begins to forge and sell letters by deceased writers, playwrights, and actors, lacing them with intimate details to command a higher price. Anna, who is a fan of Israel’s own writing, attempts to initiate a romantic relationship with her, but is rebuffed.
When one of Israel’s letters written by Noël Coward raises suspicion for its unguarded discussion of his sexuality, she is blacklisted by her buyers. Unable to sell the forgeries herself, she has her friend Jack Hock sell the letters for her, and later steals authentic letters from library archives to sell. After her cat dies under Jack’s care during one such theft, Israel ends their friendship, but continues their partnership out of necessity.
Jack is caught by the FBI during a sale who, with Jack’s cooperation, serve Israel with a court summons for forgery. She retains a lawyer, who advises her to show contrition by getting a job, doing community service, and joining Alcoholics Anonymous. In court, Israel confesses that she enjoyed making the forgeries and does not regret her actions, but that her crimes were not worth it because the letters do not show her true self as a writer. She is sentenced to five years of probation and six months of house arrest.
Sometime later, Israel reconciles with Jack – who is now dying of AIDS – and asks his permission to write a memoir about their forgeries, to which he agrees. She passes a store window and sees a letter she forged by Dorothy Parker on sale for $1,900. Disgusted, she writes the store owner a sarcastic letter from the deceased „Dorothy Parker”. Realizing the letter is a fake, the owner goes to remove it, but places it back where it was after reading it.
US 2018, 107 Min., engl. OmU,
Regie: Marielle Heller,
Buch Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Witty basierend auf der Autobiografie von Lee Israel
Kamera: Brandon Trost
Schnitt: Anne McCabe
mit: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Ben Falcone
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