Film Review: PLEASE GIVE.

Written and Directed by Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Ann Guilbert, Sarah Steele
Running Time, 91 minutes
Released June, 2010

Isn’t it strange that one of the more successful survivors of the great sixties sit-coms THE DICK VAN DYCK SHOW is the woman who played Millie Helper, the Petry’s neighbor? I wonder if that’s a comment on the longevity a good character actor can have. Those handsome faces fade and we sometimes find it painful to look at then. But a “character” actor’s face was never the reason they were cast—so we don’t mind the aging as much. I certainly enjoyed Guilbert’s performance as the unlovable but never ignorable next door neighbor in PLEAE GIVE. I enjoyed all the performances, in fact, and was happy to watch a movie about the shortcomings of human beings.

PLOT: Kate (Keener) and Alex (Platt) are antiques dealers who have to deal with the guilt of often stocking their store through unpleasant means. Yes, they read obituaries like necrophiliacs. Keener copes with this by handing out money to panhandlers. Several attempts at more meaningful acts of contrition go awry.

They lived next door to an older woman (Guilbert) whose apartment’s acquisition will allow them to expand after her death. They deal with this guilt by running errands for her and inviting her and her granddaughters (Peet and Hall) over to dinner. They also have a daughter, Abby ( Steele) whose desire to acquire expensive jeans becomes a source of friction, humor, pathos. The theme of acquisition runs through every frame.

This is not a movie about plot. What it is about is flawed people who have to live with themselves and each other. Writer/director Holofcener gives all of her characters an inner life. All of them make bad decisions but all of them are worth knowing. Much of this movie is humorous—even if it doesn’t sound like it. The actors inhabit roles that a talented writer gave considerable thought to. Isn’t that special? Yes.

Patti
Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at http://www.pattinase.blogspot.com/ She hopes you’ll join in.