Movie Review: Please Give

The film Please Give is a nice little story about some people waiting around for a bitter old lady to die. Okay, there is a little more to the film than that. The film is like a window into a small group of people’s lives for a little while. Nothing really changes dramatically, and life goes on in the end, but it is what we witness as a viewer that grabs our heart and reminds us of how similar we all are.

Please Give stars Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt as Kate and Alex. They own a very fancy, expensive, antique furniture store in New York and gain their pieces from the relatives of the dead. When granny dies and leaves behind all that gaudy furniture, they swoop in, buy it from the family for cheap and turn around and sell it at outrageous prices to unsuspecting customers.

In their home life, they are waiting for their ninety year old neighbor to pass so they can buy her apartment and expand their own quarters. There are two granddaughters of the elderly woman, Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) and Mary (Amanda Peet) who are complete opposites. Rebecca works hard as a radiology technician and gives mammograms to old women all day. She loves her job and enjoys the kindness of the older generation. She takes care of her grandmother after work with fetching groceries and medications for her, and visiting every day. Mary is more concerned about her tan than visiting Grandma every day. She works in a spa and is currently obsessed with a woman that is now her ex boyfriend’s new girl. The lives of these four people become more complicated after a birthday dinner held at Kate and Alex’s for Andra, the elderly woman, played by Ann Guilbert.

As you will see from her first scene, and what people frequently say about Andra, she is a mean, bitter old bitch. Now, I’ve known some people like this, but there always seems to be a sweet side to them somewhere. Andra, however, doesn’t care much for anything anymore and is in denial that her condition is worsening. The dinner for her birthday is awkward and short lived. However, it is vivid portrait into real conversations with people saying some things they probably shouldn’t. That is what writer/director Nicole Holofcener does so well in Please Give; giving insight into women and their reasons, even though some may be bad reasons, it is still fascinating.

There is progress in the film, but it is so vague that it’s hard to notice if anyone has grown from their issues. My favorite character had to be Kate and Alex’s teenage daughter, Abby (Sarah Steele). She struggles with acne and facing her peers as well as how important it is to look good in $200 jeans. She is smart and appropriately funny and I found her issues to be the most emotional. I also found myself remembering my high school years and instantly, I was 16 again and just wishing it could be different. However, if you don’t mesh with Abby, some will find a common link with Rebecca or Kate or even Mary. This female-centered film aims to unite women in hopes of realizing that we all have problems, we all suffer from this or that, but we are all still women.

I give Please Give 3 “bad spray tans” out of 5

by Angela Davis

About Angela

Angela is the Editor-in-Chief of Lost in Reviews. She and Ryan created Lost in Reviews together in 2009 out of a mutual hatred for all the stodgy old farts currently writing film reviews. Since launching the site, Angela has enjoyed reviewing indie films over all other films, picking up new music from all corners of the world and photographing live shows. She is the co-host of Blu Monday and a member of the Kansas City Film Critic Circle.

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