Here’s a quintessentially New York movie, where city loneliness can be soothed by a kind face at a bookstore counter. It’s the early 1990s, and Lee Israel is a writer out of fashion. Her celebrity biographies aren’t selling, she can’t get over her ex-girlfriend and she’s been thrown out of every literary party in town for drunkenness. On top of it all, her cat is sick. Dark times call for desperate measures. Spurred on by roguish drinking buddy Jack (Richard E Grant), Israel turns to a get-rich-quick scheme that uses her research skills plus a little knack for impersonation.
Next thing, she’s selling some ‘newly discovered’ correspondence from Noël Coward, amongst other literary giants. Director Marielle Heller follows The Diary of a Teenage Girl with this irresistible tale of female crime genius, working with Nicole Holofcener’s (Enough Said) beautifully calibrated adaptation of Israel’s own memoir.
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells
Director Marielle Heller, USA. 108mins, Cert 15A.