Can you ever forgive me?

A film by Marielle Heller. In English with German subtitles.

[Credits] [Termine] [Trailer]

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 [nbsp]


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