The real Lee Israel, the celebrity profiler turned forger who died in 2014, was a more boastful figure than the sad-sack recluse Melissa McCarthy plays in Marielle Heller’s sympathetic biopic, especially when methodically detailing her brief, prolific criminal spree in the early 1990s.
In adapting the wartime diaries of Marguerite Duras, Emmanuel Finkiel captures the author’s oblique style, which filters events though a thick layer of ennui, and centers on women who deal with inflicted trauma by torturing themselves.
This live-action reworking of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is devoid of social or political undercurrents and untethered from recognizable reality – precisely the kind of fantasy film that should appease moviegoers critical of how the Marvel universe or the Star Wars series get too close to reality.
The austere beauty of Never Steady, Never Still reflects the stripped-down lives of Kathleen Hepburn’s self-contained characters, who require little and ask for less. Judy (Shirley Henderson) has early-onset Parkinson’s disease, and only allows herself to express regret and disappointment at a mobility support group.
The wistful longing of discontented Japanese salarymen in Shall We Dance? is absent from the bracingly funny Oh Lucy! Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima), an office lady tugging at her restrictive white collar, bubbles with anger and resentment.