Can You Ever Forgive Me? – you will, after seeing next week’s hugely enjoyable film

Continuing the current fashion for true tales that are stranger than fiction, Marielle Heller turns Lee Israel’s improbable career as a forger into a jolly, breathless romp that skips from scene to scene. Israel’s wobbly criminal career path looks to have a trajectory heading for disaster form the outset, and much of the fun of this film comes from watching how deftly she avoids it.

It’s a rare treat to see a film led by two 50-somethings, particularly when they are not romantically involved and Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant both have a marvellous time out-doing each other in every scene in this two-hander, yet also manage to project the obvious chemistry that grows between them. This casting masterstroke allows these fairly reprehensible characters to be generally unpleasant throughout the movie, and yet mange to retain the sympathy of their audience. The film has Nicole Holofcener to thank for this too. Her razor sharp script crackles with the harsh realities of broken dreams and lives lived in obscurity.

Both hilarious and poignant, this is a movie that celebrates failure, rejoices in mistake and sympathises with fallibility. Something of a shaggy dog tale, it never gets very far but makes for a hugely enjoyable ride.

By David Vass

Can you Ever Forgive? (15) screens on Wednesday 4th September, 10.30am & 7.30pm