Parents' Guide to

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Wry, painful fact-based comedy has language, drinking.

Movie R 2018 107 minutes
Can You Ever Forgive Me? Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 1 parent review

age 17+

True story with excessive innuendo

There is a true story in here but it practically gets buried in too much innuendo and swearing. If a parent really wants their child or teen to watch a rated R movie there are others that have a better message or story and less excessive foul language and innuendo than this one.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (2 ):

It's a festival of self-loathing, but this comedy does a remarkable job of balancing its bleaker elements with the lightness of Israel's quick mind. Nicole Holofcener of Enough Said and Jeff Whitty of Broadway's Avenue Q have crafted one of 2018's more nimble scripts. Director Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl) and McCarthy let us into Lee's oppressive cloud of stress and worry while keeping the film afloat with her wit and drive to survive. And Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a feast for lovers of certain literary figures, as Lee captures their voices so skillfully. Her felonious scheme is portrayed in its full complexity: We admire the writing talent that makes it possible while cringing at its impact on innocent people.

The latter lands most effectively because of the wonderful supporting work of Dolly Wells as a smart, shy bookseller Lee becomes infatuated with but victimizes anyway. Wells recalls Shailene Woodley's exquisite fragility in The Spectacular Now with her authentic vulnerability. It's painful for viewers to watch her admiration for Lee grow, since they know what Lee is up to. It's a lovely, memorable performance. And then there's Grant as suave, hustling, aging ne'er-do-well Jack; it's a role that feels written specifically for the British charmer. He fully inhabits such dialogue as (when inviting himself to sit next to the sour Lee) "I'm coming over. I'm not good at reading social cues." In Jack, Grant (who, ironically, isn't a drinker in real life) may have finally found the showcase role needed to earn awards recognition. Pouring these two loquacious losers into a kind of depressive caper comedy tastes like a few parts Barfly and a few parts Ironweed, shaken, on the rocks.

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