Two families, sort of neighbors in Manhattan, cross paths as they navigate marriage, parenthood of a teen, ennui, a first date, and end-of-life care. Rebecca and Mary are sisters; their cranky 91-year-old grandmother's neighbors, Kateand Alex, run an upscale retro-furniture business, and will expand into her flat after she dies. Rebecca is quiet, without a boyfriend until a patient at the clinic where she works introduces her grandson. Mary is acerbic, stung by a recent breakup. Kate looks for meaning in her life, wondering if she should volunteer. Alex, too, is at loose ends. Their daughter, Abby, has zits and teenage moods. What does it mean to be good? Written by
Kate is shown reading a book, 'Assassination Vacation', by Sarah Vowell. That author appears in a brief but credited role as a shopper. The actress playing Kate, Catherine Keener, is also a featured voice in the audio book of 'Assassination Vacation'. See more »
You might want "more" in a story, but this is so well made, funny, and moving, it's more than enough
Please Give (2010)
A sharp, witty, touching, slice-of-life gem of a movie directed by Nicole Holofcener. It has some of the trappings of an Indie movie, with very ordinary people taking the leads and quirky low budget filming and music to make it undramatic.
But the cast is top notch. The leads--there are four of them in a well balanced ensemble--are nothing if not believable. Maybe most impressive as an actress is Rebecca Hall, who played Vicky in "Vicky, Christina, Barcelona," completely transforming herself into an awkward, kindly, thoughtful and slightly whining young woman. Playing her sister is a hardened and unlikable Amanda Peet, who also has a Woody Allen feather in her cap, "Melinda, Melinda."
Then there is a moderne era antique store couple, Catherine Keener (a regular in the director's films) and Oliver Platt, a comfortable couple who buy their antiques people who have just had a relative with an apartment full of stuff die. Yes, there is some black humor, hilarious stuff, and there are layers of contemporary New York life with its superficial and materialist angst, and charm. As events compound, usually with conviction, the characters become more rounded and intriguing. And sympathetic. By the end, you feel for everyone, whatever their weird and sometimes selfish cores.
If the movie seems like a cross between Sex and the City and Six Feet Under, it's not a surprise--Holofcener has directed episodes from both series. Throw in her early apprenticeship under Woody Allen, and you get the humor as well as the high standards of writing and directing, combined, that Allen inspires. "Please Give" is slight, somehow, in its intentions. It takes a view of life that isn't so strange really, and where nothing all that unusual happens--the weirdness is just a reminder that we all have weirdness in our lives--and it makes it salient. That's the magic overall, lifting everyday traits into the light where they matter. Or matter differently. With a laugh.
Don't miss it!
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