Please Give Reviews
In a nutshell, you have a New York couple who deal in "reclaimed" furniture. The big secret is how they get said furniture. You see, the couple, aptly played by Platt and Keener swoop in on estate sales and the like, taking advantage of those in mourning or those just unaware; picking up prime pieces for peanuts and then later selling them at huge profits.
The one trick pony is that Keener is feeling guilty. How very un-capitalistic of her! Of course she realizes that if she and her husband weren't doing it, someone else would be (as the film shows in one of the few bright scenes, where another dealer takes advantage of Keener's feeling of guilt, getting a table for 4k which he then sells at his own shop for 7 - ain't America great?).
Thrown into the mix is the totally superfluous role of the 15 year old daughter - who has no real purpose, but somehow the director decides to make into a major character anyway (the repeated riff on the 200 buck pair of jeans is boring and repetitive - and to end the film with her receiving the holy grail attempts to give this not so subtle statement about consumerism far more weight than it should. Of course even here, the message is mixed, as it could equally be argued that you get what you pay for. After several attempts at cheaper jeans (which don't fit), the daughter finally wins out when the expensive pair fit her better - and give the daughter a much needed boost in her self esteem (ooh, another message!).
There is attempted black humor as Platt and Keener are waiting for the 90 year old woman next door to die so they can buy her apartment and tear down the walls to make their place larger. The old bag is direct to a fault, ha ha, and when you add in her two granddaughters, one a mouse who cares for grandma, and the other a shrew who predictably ends up bedding Platt, you get the kind of plotting and script that might last a full season as a "real life" sitcom. But as a feature film.... You have every right to expect more. I walked away from this film without an ounce of caring for any of the characters - the film played so trite and felt so scripted and melodramatic that I simply cannot believe all the wonderful reviews this high school play has received. Unreal and phony - if this is what "in the know" New Yorkers think is real - I'm eternally grateful I live on the opposite coast.
In over 300 films reviewed, this one ranks near the bottom - not because it's spectacularly bad, but because it pretends to be art and a look at real life - and delivers neither one.
(Also disappointing, especially so given that it was written and directed by a woman: Oliver Platt scores Catherine Keener AND Amanda Peet. I'm sorry, what? What is it about Keener that just screams "cast me alongside a really ugly man"?)
As with the rest of her oeuvre, Holofcener's easily hateable characters revel in the muck and mire of their own neuroses. They have too much of everything but don't do enough of anything. Unlike Lovely & Amazing and Friends With Money, however, in which rich people rising up from moneyed oppression are tangential but still poignant subplots, Please Give's entire plot is one nearly squeezed-dry lemon - recycled, reduced, and reused.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh since the two aforementioned films are such gems in my book. This film isn't terrible. Holofcener's trademark mundanities and little crimes of shame still shine through. Kate breaking down at meeting a mentally-challenged girl with her daughter's name. Alex's never-atoned-for affair with Mary.
[MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS]
The movie pretty much just focuses on the lives of a wife, husband, and daughter and two sisters and their grandmother who both live next door to each other in an apartment complex. Kate, her husband, and her teenage daughter look forward to the death of the Grandmother so they can make their apartment much bigger. But, one of the two sisters does whatever possible to keep her grandmother in healthy condition, while the other sister just doesn't care since she thinks her grandmother is a "bitch". The connections between these characters grow as the movie progresses and more and more drama piles up onto a table as well. It could be classified as a no-plotted "Chick-Flick".
Kate is the type of character who believes that money shouldn't go towards anything un-important. Well, thats not what her teenage daughter thinks. Her daughter wants nothing but expensive jeans and facials, but Kate believes money should go towards a better cause' like the homeless. There's one soapy problem in the movie that goes along during the film. Kate also runs a furniture store of old things that are "valuable". She takes such things and pretty much just puts price tags on them. She also faces the problem of people coming in and out of the store asking "Where'd you get this?". Kate wonders troughout the movie if other stores are going after her.
Alex is Kate's husband. Alex loves his family, but once he meets Mary, one of the two sisters [the one who thinks her Grandmother is a "Bitch"], and sorta-er falls in love. When Alex goes to get a "facial" at Mary's job, the two start an affair and Alex has trouble ending it. Mary is just the type of character who doesn't care and stalks her EX'S new girlfriends. Lets put it this way...she's a bitch. Another soapy problem.
Rebecca Hall plays Rebecca. The other sister who takes care of her Grandmother. Rebecca is so caught up in work and her grandmother that she doesn't date. Her job is giving mamograms, by the way. Her character meets a man and sorta begins a relationship. But, can she handle taking care of her grandmother and a new relationship? Soapy problem number four.
The soapy problems between all these characters piles up more and more as the movie goes on and makes the veiwers wonder: what the hell is the plot of this movie?
The reason I rated this movie so high is because of its performences and for its good dialouge. The story was too flat and there wasn't much to be found from it.
Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall give wonderful performences in this movie, maybe even Oscar-worthy. Amanda Peet is drop-dead gorgeous in this movie, not like that makes her performence good, but based on that, I thought she was rather good. Normally, I only find her role's okay, but in this movie I seemed to really like her. She wasn't as amazing as Keener or Hall, but still, quite good.
The film's writing is rather good and the dialouge works perfectly.
This would've been a much better movie if it had two things. One: A plot. I wanted a story from this. As the movie progresses these characters have life problems and such in which they try to solve but the movie never really has a plot to give us a point. Two: A better ending. I feel as if the movie didn't end. It just cut. The movie ends with me wondering a few things and I feel like this wasn't tied up the way it should have been. With a better ending i'd give this a higher rating.
Anyways, this is a nicley acted indie-flick. Sure, the plot is somewhere hidden, but it has a nice moral about life. Rent it.
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, Cathy and 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. Cathy 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?
In New York City, a husband and wife butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives in apartment the couple owns.
Funny, touching & poignantly human comedy/drama from filmmaker Nicole Holofcener mixing the mean with the meaningful focusing on a married couple (the always magnetic Keener in arguably a career high and always watchable Platt, ditto), who run a business involving used furniture procured from the grief-stricken family members of the recently deceased elderly and their run-ins with guilt by association with fellow tenant Morgan Guilbert, a cranky senior whose apartment they covet as well. Told with clear-eyed misanthropy mixed with bittersweet loveliness the film packs an emotional wallop while pulling the heart-strings, jerking tears & tickling the funny bone. Kudos to Morgan Guilbert's oil and vinegar granddaughters, wallflower with a heart of gold Hall (who just gets better with each showcase of her talent) and bitch on wheels Peet (a surprising departure from her usual sunny dispositions); one of the year's very best.
Please Give is a solid indie drama about two families: an unpleasant elderly woman and the two grown grandchildren that she raised, and a husband, wife and daughter in the apartment across the hall who have purchased the old lady's apartment with intentions or expanding their own after her death. The story deals with themes like guilt and strained family ties, but it's not overly somber or morose. There are touches of humor and levity sprinkled liberally throughout, and it's a quite pleasant film, overall.
The brightest spots of the uniformly good cast were Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, and Oliver Platt. All three of them made me sit up and take notice at the fine acting they were doing in roles that required some real nuance. Kudos to the whole cast, but especially those three.
I like watching movies like this from time to time, because they're not overly emotionally demanding, but they still give you more of an experience than your average action, mystery or thriller flick. Good film; recommended.
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Summary: Life gets knotty when successful Manhattan couple Alex (Oliver Platt) and Kate (Catherine Keener) develop a relationship with the granddaughters of Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert), the cantankerous elderly woman who owns the apartment next to theirs -- and who must die so they can expand their home.
My Thoughts: "It's a character driven story which I like. Catherine Keener is a favorite of mine and I just love her in this. She has a way of always becoming any part you give her. Oliver Pratt was good in this as well and I liked him and Keener as an on screen couple. Sarah Steele plays a good bratty and moody teenage daughter. Liked her in this. My favorite character in the film was Andra. Ann Morgan Guilbert played her well. Loved all the off handed remarks she made whether it being true or just mean. Amanda Peet's character was easy to dislike. She played the part fittingly. Rebecca Hall was the quiet but sweet character. A story of how we treat each other. How judgemental and cynical we can be to our loved ones and people we barely know and yet feel sorry for those less fortunate. Definitely a film that stays true to real life. Great characters with honest performances. Worth the rental."