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Please Give

a film by Nicole Holofcener

One can certainly have no complaints about a film with a cast that includes Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall. All have done great work in the past and all will most likely do great work in the future. Unfortunately for such a great cast, while trudging around Nicole Holofcener's rather lackluster Please Give, there doesn't seem to be much great work to be had. So I suppose what I am trying to say is that yes, one can certainly have some complaints about a film with a cast that includes Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall - mainly that they are not given much of anything worthwhile to work with or at or around.

Please Give is the story of a forty something Manhattan couple (Keener and Platt playing appropriately distanced) who make a living by buying the belongings of the recently deceased and selling said belongings off in their high rent store for quite a hefty profit. The only problem is, Keener's Kate feels guilt at what she does for a living (and especially how much she earns at it) and over compensates by handing out twenties to the homeless and attempting volunteer work she obviously has no mental capabilities of doing in any sort of proper manner. In other words, she is full of liberal angst and hopes to cover it up by doing "good" by society - even if it is at the expense of those closest to her.

This is also the story of two sisters, one sweet and generous, taking care of their elderly grandmother (Hall) and one a stuck-up, self-centered bitch, hiding the typical insecurities beneath her arrogant facade (Peet). It is within these four characters and their intertwining lives that Holofcener tries to make the kind of connections that make for an interesting film. Unfortunately, even though she is working with talented actors (the understated Hall stands out), the filmmaker is never able to make those aforementioned connections do anything but fizzle with just the occasional slight sizzle.

The film isn't quite a wash out - thanks mainly to the great cast and what each of them brings to the table (if not the story) - but one might question the moral lessons learned along the way. I suppose no matter what your mother may have told you, in the end money can buy happiness after all. Glad to hear it - now if only it could buy a better movie to do it in. But you won't hear any complaints from me. Well, not many at least. Okay, okay, I complained - get over it. [06/24/10]

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