Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtin, Anna Deavere Smith, Dolly Wells, Jennifer Westfeldt, Julie Ann Emery, Shae D’Lyn, Michael Cyril Creighton
Bio-comedy drama directed by Marielle Heller in which the story follows celebrity biographer (and friend to cats) Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy), who made her living in the 1970’s and 80’s profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Richard E. Grant).
Israel begins selling letters that she has forged that appear to have been written by deceased writers, playwrights and actors. When a letter that Israel says was written by Noel Coward raises suspicion, people stop buying letters from her. She and Jack begin stealing actual letters from library archives and selling them.
[referring to the books]
Bookstore Employee: Just these, I don’t want the others.
Lee Israel: Come on, man. I schlepped these all the way here.
Bookstore Employee: There’s people waiting.
Lee Israel: You know, you don’t have to be so disrespectful. You have actually carried my books here.
Bookstore Employee: And you are?
Lee Israel: Lee Israel.
Bookstore Employee: Oh, we have copies of your latest work right over there.
[Lee turns and sees her book on display with a massive 75% discount sign on it]
Marjorie: [to Lee] Nobody is going to pay for the writer Lee Israel right now.
Marjorie: [to Lee] My suggestion to you is you go out there and find another way to make a living.
Lee Israel: I’m months behind in my rent and my cat is sick.
Jack Hock: It’s four in the afternoon and you’re drunk!
Lee Israel: I’m hardly drunk.
[to the barman]
Jack Hock: Craigy, top her up.
[after forging a letter to sell at a bookstore]
Lee Israel: I’ve recently found this delightful signed letter.
Book Dealer #1: Fanny Brice, one of my favorites. I could give you seventy-five.
Lee Israel: Oh.
Book Dealer #1: I could give more for better content. It’s a bit bland is all.
[Lee goes back to the same dealer after forging another letter with more content in it]
Book Dealer #1: Yeah, I can get a lot more with this one. I mean the “P.S.” makes it priceless.
Lee Israel: Can you keep a secret?
Jack Hock: Who would I tell? All my friends are dead.
Lee Israel: Quite by accident I find myself in a rather criminal position.
Jack Hock: What criminal activity could possibly involve you? Except a crime of fashion of course.
Lee Israel: I’m embellishing literary letters by prominent writers.
Jack Hock: Who else have you told about this?
Lee Israel: You’re not the only one without friends.
[referring to one of Lee’s forged letters]
Book Dealer #1: I love his writing.
Lee Israel: Particularly clever, don’t you think?
Book Dealer #1: A caustic wit.
Book Dealer #2: This is quite something. These are wonderful.
Lee Israel: I thought so too.
Book Dealer #2: Name your price.
[to Jack; referring to one of her forged letters]
Lee Israel: You are looking at one month’s rent.
Jack Hock: [to Lee] What are we going to do? Gamble? Shop? Drink?
[listening to Lee’s answering machine]
Book Dealer #2: Miss Israel, I have a couple of questions regarding the Latin letter I purchased
Jack Hock: Oh, God.
Lee Israel: What seems to be the problem?
Book Dealer #2: People are on alert. Your name’s been put on the list.
Lee Israel: A list?
Lee Israel: They’re literary treasures, one of a kind! It’s my writing!
Jack Hock: You’re impersonating other people. Nobody’s buying Lee Israel letters.
Book Dealer #1: There have been some forgeries going around.
Jack Hock: Do you think it’s real?
Book Dealer #1: Look’s that way.
Jack Hock: Good.
Lee Israel: You’re stealing from me?
Jack Hock: Come on.
Lee Israel: [to Jack] Get out of my house!
Lee Israel: I was supposed to be something more than this.
Lawyer: We’re probably looking at some time in behind bars.
Lee Israel: What?
Lee Israel: I can’t say that I regret any of my actions. In many ways this has been the best time of my life.
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