As the fight for the better representation of women onscreen continues, it’s just as important that the push for equality extends behind the camera, too.
The statistics are damning: of the top 100 films of 2017, only 24% featured a female protagonist. Even worse, only eight of those 100 films were directed by women.
Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a rare and welcome exception to this status quo: a film about the true story of Lee Israel, a once-successful biographer who turned to literary forgery as a means to survive, but, as star Richard E Grant describes it, told strictly through the “female gaze”.
Grant, who plays Israel’s partner-in-crime Jack Hock, told The Independent: “There was no attempt to use that terrible word of ‘Oh, we had to sex up things’, to kind of make them more sympathetic or more attractive. They’re authentically who they are and I think people have really connected with that.”
The film not only boasts Heller as its director, but also a team of female producers in Anny Carey and Amy Nauiokas, a female screenwriter in Nicole Holofcener, and a female editor in Anne McCabe.
Melissa McCarthy, who plays Israel, believes it’s “important” that women have the ability to tell their own stories, but that: “I don’t want all things to be told by women. I think the variety you need is to have stories told from all perspectives, all backgrounds. It’s how we stay tethered together as humans. When you hear other people’s struggles and stories – and it can’t all be from the same lens.”
She added: “So this was wonderful and such an open and collaborative set with a gentle touch. It was lovely. “
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is out now.
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