Written & Directed by Nicole Holofcener
Please Give is a film that caught my attention when it was out in theaters, but I never did catch up with it until now. The film stars Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall. I think what attracted me the most was Oliver Platt, a fantastic character actor, and the idea behind the movie, please give. I was under the impression that it would involve some deep emotional storyline that climaxes in a great epiphany, exercising the humanity of humans and our ability to be great towards one another, even in dark hours. That was a pipe dream and I can’t judge this movie based on what I expected, but that is not what I got.
The film follows Kate (Keener) and Alex (Platt), who are a married couple with a vintage design store. They get all of their products from the apartments of people who have passed away. Some consider them vultures, others just simply people that can take the “junk” from their deceased relatives. Living next door to Kate and Alex, and their pre-teen daughter Abby, is 91 year old Andra. Kate and Alex have already bought her apartment in anticipation of expanding their own when Andra passes, which makes their relationship with her granddaughters, Rebecca (Hall) and Mary (Peet), awkward at times. As we learn more about these characters, so too do they about themselves. The question is, will they like what they find out?
Please Give comes across like any other indie dramedy. It may not have the same cliches or characters, but it certainly feels very similar. Writer/director Nicole Holofcener goes for the emotional impact on each and every single character. She gives each of them some conflict to deal with, but the problem becomes that they are not thematically, or logically connected. They each deal with their demons and issues, but each in different ways and with varying results, which leaves the film to be a roller coaster ride of emotions that leaves the rider with motion sickness instead of any real emotional connection or reaction to any of the characters.
They try here, they really do, and the heart of the film and those involved should be applauded because they tried, it was just too strung out. The exception to this would be the character of Rebecca, played by Rebecca Hall. Rebecca is engrossed with caring for her grandmother and has become socially inept almost and certainly socially depressed. She is the only one who, in the end, I care about, and much of that has to do with a very real performance by Hall, which is aided greatly by my crush on the actress, I will admit. But in reality, her acceptance of her life and ability to, by the end, be happy with it is the thing I took most from the otherwise bland film.