The film is about the real-life story of down and out of luck biographical author, Lee Israel. Her books aren’t doing well and she finds it hard to find inspiration. She can’t afford her rent or veterinarian care for her sick cat. She decides to forge letters signed and typed up by famous entertainment personalities. At first, she finds the scam to be lucrative but eventually the buyers become suspicious and the FBI gets involved.
This movie is not a comedy and the performers did a great job of capturing people who are not always made for this world. Melissa McCarthy gives an impressive performance as Lee Israel and Richard Grant is wonderful as her ne’er do well friend and accomplice, Jack Hock. I really liked the atmosphere and the ability to capture the grit and seediness of New York in the early 90’s.
I had never heard of Lee Israel, and Melissa McCarthy’s funny and often heartbreaking performance in this film has made me want to read her book that inspired this film and learn more about her. The screenplay has a wonderful way of portraying Israel and Jack Hock as criminals, but at the same time making them both very human and very vulnerable, each in their own way.