Please Give

15 Jul

Title: Please Give
Year: 2010
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Writer: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, Sarah Steele, Ann Guilbert
MPAA Rating: R, language, some sexual content and nudity
Runtime: 90 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Please Give is a film I found remarkable in many ways, the characters are complex and really well drawn-out, it feels real, it’s touching and it’s well-acted, one can’t really ask for much more from a film like this. Nicole Holofcener is truly outstanding at drawing out these characters that just feel so real, they feel perfectly imperfect, and the fact that she, in this film, could insert them in this very rough economic climate we are in makes this film hit harder, and because she makes it feel so natural, it’s a tremendous success.

We have an old lady in this film, she’s like 90 and she’s cranky as hell and hates everyone and is just an ungrateful lady, but then again she’s 90 so who can really blame her. Next to her apartment lives a couple with their younger daughter, and they are waiting for her to die so that they can get her apartment and bring the walls down and make theirs bigger, that’s just how life goes, especially with the New York real estate market being what it is.

Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt play this couple, they own an antique furniture store, and they really want to have the old lady die. Taking care of said old lady are her two granddaughters, one played by the beautiful Rebecca Hall, the other one played by Amanda Peet, who’s quite attractive herself. Ms. Hall’s character, who’s also named Rebecca, is quite dependable while Ms. Peet’s character, Mary, isn’t that dependable, unless you’re a liquor store and she’s your customer.

There is this one scene in which, in an attempt to calm their consciousness from their desire for the old lady to die, Kate and Alex, the couple, throw a dinner party for the old lady and both her granddaughters, I think that scene is a great testament to how great a filmmaker Nicole Holofcener is and has become, she’s perfect at making these sort of scenes, especially because she is one of the true masters of writing female characters, she has proved that along her career, and having Catherine Keener, a terrific actress whom she had collaborated before, as your lead female makes it that much better.

Ms. Holofcener just paints these great group of characters, who define a type of New Yorker perfectly, and just runs with it, and because she is such a true master of crafting those wickedly awkward scenes we get to see her explore the guilt, shame and benevolence that her characters feel, and how genuine, if at all, those feelings are. And we are lucky to see her go at it with a pitch-perfect cast since not only is Ms. Keener outstanding but just everyone is, Ms. Peet especially I think deserves a mention because, even though we already knew she could play uninhibited quite well before seeing this one, we had never seen her act that way under such a great script, and yes, Ms. Holofcener is indeed a “women’s” director I guess, but not in a way that Nancy Meyers is one, but on a different way, in a way that’s all her own, she doesn’t pass judgement on the men in her film, she just lets them go and deals with them as she, and her female characters, go along in the story.

Please Give is a pretty extraordinary film, one that I loved from the very beginning (because it begins with a multitude of breasts all shapes, sizes and colors being shown) and one that I hated to see end, because I had made a connection with the characters, because it felt real and it struck me in many ways, and I just really don’t want to wait another four years for Ms. Holofcener to do another film.

Grade: A-


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