Please Give (tbc)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/06/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Enjoyable, emotionally engaging comedy-drama from writer-director Nicole Holofcener, featuring a sharply written script, likeable characters and terrific performances from a talented ensemble cast.

What's it all about?
The fourth film from writer-director Nicole Holofcener, Please Give stars Holofcener regular Catherine Keener as Kate, a successful, socially conscious New Yorker who runs a furniture business with her husband Alex (Oliver Platt) but feels increasingly guilty about the fact that they buy most of their furniture from families with recently deceased relatives. Kate's guilt is further compounded by the fact that they are waiting for their elderly next door neighbour Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert) to die, so that they can annex her apartment.

In an attempt to assuage their guilt, Kate and Alex attempt to get to know Andra and her two grown-up granddaughters – kindly-but-shy mammogram technician Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) and gorgeous-but-self-obsessed beauty technician Mary (Amanda Peet) – but things don't quite work out as planned. Meanwhile, Kate and Alex's grumpy teenage daughter Abby (Sarah Steele) struggles with her own issues and strikes up separate bonds with both Kate and Mary.

The Good
Nicole Holofcener specialises in smart, witty, female-driven comedy-dramas and, as such, Please Give sits nicely alongside her previous three films (Walking and Talking, Lovely & Amazing and Friends With Money), with Catherine Keener once again taking centre stage. This time round, the sharply written, frequently funny script explores emotionally engaging issues of middle-class guilt, death, friendship, adultery, family relationships and the pains of adolescence.

The script is just as interesting for the things it leaves unsaid – for example, we can sense problems between Alex and Kate, but they both try and ignore them rather than confronting them, just as there are strong tensions bubbling away in the relationship between Rebecca and Mary, though they never reach boiling point.

The Great
The performances are superb. Keener and Hall are reliably excellent as always and there's strong support from both Amanda Peet (who somehow manages to make Mary likeable, despite her being the least appealing character) and particularly from Sarah Steele, who strikes some painfully familiar chords as Abby, especially in her arguments with Kate.

Worth seeing?
Please Give is an enjoyable, sharply observed comedy drama with likeable characters, a witty, emotionally engaging script and superb performances from its talented cast. Highly recommended. Make more films, Nicole Holofcener!

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Content updated: 22/11/2019 08:24

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