Saturday, May 1, 2010

Movie with Abe: Please Give

Please Give
Directed by Nicole Holefcener
Released April 30, 2010

Rebecca Hall, Ann Guilbert, Amanda Peet, and Catherine Keener star in "Please Give"

According to one of its talented stars, “Please Give” is a film where everyone is giving in the wrong direction or for the wrong reasons, with the exception of one person. Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Starter for 10”) exempts her character, mammogram technician Rebecca, as the one figure in the film who is constantly giving of herself and not allowing herself to be happy. Such a film with despicable, selfish personalities might sound off-putting, and according to its director, she was originally told that the film was too depressing and that people were going to kill themselves if they saw it, but that’s not the case. Instead, it’s a fresh and solidly funny story of people conflicted with how best to go about their lives and certainly not open to the possibility of others telling them how they should be doing it.

Director Nicole Holefcener discusses the film

“Please Give” comes from the mind of a writer-director who has been described by some as a female auteur. This is Nicole Holofcener’s fourth film, as well as her fourth collaboration with lead actress Catherine Keener. In her latest work, Holofcener has interwoven the lives of a couple that buys and sells furniture from the relatives of recently deceased individuals, their teenage daughter, the cranky old lady who lives next door, and her two granddaughters, one the aforementioned mammogram technician and the other an overly tan esthetician. Holofcener describes her film as a “very human tale; an intelligent, funny, sad movie that moves people.” The opening credits sequence, which features a number of faceless breasts going into mammograms, set to the tune of the Roches’ song “No Shoes.” It’s a wonderfully entertaining, light way to start out a film and set an appropriate mood for its story.

Oliver Platt and Rebecca Hall discuss the film

The cast is strong and well-rounded, featuring exemplary performances from Hall, Keener, Oliver Platt, and particularly Amanda Peet. The two standouts, however, represent opposite ends of the age spectrum. Young Sarah Steele shines as the daughter of Keener and Platt’s characters that struggles with being understood by the elder generations. And there there’s 81-year-old Ann Guilbert, who forty-five years ago played Millie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” here portraying one the most impolite and curmudgeonly old women ever seen on screen. The two enhance the subplots and help the overall story achieve a greater resonance. At its core, “Please Give” is a fiercely funny and endearing film full of rich characters and original storylines.


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