This is the fourth movie in a row that I’ve seen in a theater that is based on events in someone’s life (Free Solo, The Old Man and the Gun, and Bohemian Rhapsody). This movie tells the story of the literary forgeries of Lee Israel, a biographer who fell onto hard times when her style of writing fell out of favor in the 1990s. No one knows exactly how many letters Israel forged but it is believed to be more than 400. Some are believed to still be in circulation. By all accounts, she had a real knack for writing in the voice of other writers. Melissa McCarthy is wonderful in the non-comedic lead role. She has made me want to see her in more of these dramatic roles. Richard Grant is perfect in the role of Israel’s best friend and accomplice. The movie captures well the challenges that Israel faced making a living as a writer as well as simply living as a decent human being. The movie is based on Israel’s memoir of the same name and shows her as dishonest, mean, nasty, hoarding, and dirty. I’m curious about how much of that negative portrayal comes from the memoir. This is not a movie with a happy ending or hard-earned redemption. Israel remains difficult until the very end. But she is fascinating nonetheless.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in astrophotography, game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.