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Please Give movie poster

Please Give: Movie Review

Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Amanda Peet, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Ann Guilbert, Sarah Steele
Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

In Short: Another funny, quirky social comedy from Nicole Holofcener (“Lovely and Amazing”) follows the intertwined lives of two families in a New York apartment complex in the tradition of Woody Allen’s best.

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Wry Insights Make “Please Give” a Keeper

Nicole Holofcener sure knows how to tell a story. The writer-director of “Friends with Money,” “Lovely and Amazing” and “Walking and Talking” returns to the big screen with “Please Give,” another quirky, funny film. This time, she looks at the foibles and idiocies of a group of New Yorkers who are tied together because of an apartment.

Ninety-one-year-old Andra (Ann Guilbert), a crotchety old biddy, lives in the apartment next to Kate (Catherine Keener), Alex (Oliver Platt) and their teenage daughter Abby (Sarah Steele). They are friendly, but the family is actually on a deathwatch, for they have purchased the old lady’s place, and as soon as she dies they can expand their living space. Problem is, she just won’t die. Meanwhile, her two granddaughters (Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall) stop by every day to take care of her, and as the families begin to intertwine, comical, yet often melancholy, moments take place.

Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt in Please Give Amanda Peet in Please Give

Kate is at the center of the story, and as usual, Keener plays her to perfection. Owning a very successful vintage furniture shop with her husband brings in plenty of income, but she feels incredibly guilty about her wealth, as there are homeless people scattered all over the streets of New York City. So she gives, and gives, and gives, much to the chagrin of her daughter, who has none of her mother’s angst and just wants a pair of $200 jeans. Her husband has no guilt either, not even when he strikes up an illicit relationship with one of the granddaughters.

Holofcener’s expert casting—all the players are pitch-perfect in their roles, not just Keener—her keen wit, and deft characterizations make the film fly along, with plenty of twists and turns and ironic moments. She keeps us laughing yet layers her film with some serious themes that resonate long after the credits have rolled. In many ways, she’s the Woody Allen of her generation (she’s 40 years old), mixing laughs with deeper thoughts on the human condition, all the while creating characters that are strikingly real and identifiable in their personal neuroses.


Reviewed by Jenny Peters

(Updated 04/30/10 CT)

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