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Please Give - Movie Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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please give

The Bottom Line

Nicole Holofcener's new film is an intelligent and funny look at the existential pain of life as a wealthy New Yorker with an enormous apartment. Catherine Keener gives a wonderful, multifaceted performance as Kate, a woman who seems to have it all and feels absolutely terrible about it.

Pros

  • Intelligent story that explores complex and relatable themes
  • Excellent performances from Catherine Keener and ensemble cast
  • Dark humor will appeal to New York cynics
  • Great Manhattan settings

Cons

  • Humor is dark and bleak at times -- not your typical date night movie

Description

  • Please Give
  • Director/Screenwriter: Nicole Holofcener
  • Starring: Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Sarah Steele, Ann Guilbert

Guide Review - Please Give - Movie Review

In Please Give, director Nicole Holofcener's new film premiering at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, Kate (Catherine Keener) feels conflicted about her life as a wealthy New Yorker. Kate's job involves scamming the children of dead people to acquire antique furniture for her high-end furniture business. Meanwhile, she and her husband Alex (Oliver Platt)are just waiting for their elderly neighbor to die so they can bust through the walls and expand their already-spacious Manhattan apartment.

Kate's guilt leads her to give generously to homeless people (and to a shabby-chic man she mistakenly believes is homeless, but who is actually waiting for a table at a trendy restaurant), tearfully contemplate volunteer opportunities, and deny her teenage daughter $200 jeans.

Platt's Alex has his own reasons to feel guilty. He's having a fling with the elderly neighbor's hot granddaughter Mary (Amanda Peet), who is obsessed with her ex-boyfriend's current girlfriend. Mary's sister Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) is a good girl who takes care of her grandmother and spends her days administering mammograms.

Like Holofcener's previous films (Walking and Talking, Friends with Money), Please Give explores the themes of insecurity, materialism, and liberal guilt with humor and insight.

The film grabs your attention with an opening montage of breasts of all shapes and varieties bared in the mammogram room, then keeps you engaged right through to the somewhat ambiguous but satisfying end.

As a New Yorker, I found myself identifying somewhat with Kate's guilt about being fortunate enough to have resources in a city in which so many others do not. At times, though, I also wanted to kick her for being such a drama queen when she has so many more resources than I do (that apartment!).

Catherine Keener is a pleasure to watch as always. She inhabits the character of Kate and shows us the good, the bad, and the petty. In fact, all of the performances are excellent. The gorgeous Rebecca Hall manages to convince us that her character is a dateless homebody and Oliver Platt is a likable horndog with a disconcerting fondness for Howard Stern. Ann Guilbert as the crotchety neighbor Andra and Sarah Steele as the acne-obsessed Abby are also standouts.

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