Sunday, April 24, 2011

Please Give: Grade B


Please Give (2010)

Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt, Sarah Steele, Ann Morgan Guilbert; Writer-Director Nicole Holofcener.

This film is almost a remake of Holofcener’s “Friends With Money,” another talky-comedy, which was set in LA. This one takes place in Manhattan and has a Woody-Allen feel. Two families are neighbors in a condo. The Keener-Platt couple (and their daughter Steele) have bought the neighboring apartment but allow the old lady living there (Guilbert) to remain as a tenant until she dies. She is tended to by her daughters Hall and Peet.

So what happens? Nothing. In the end, the old lady dies and the Keener-Platts take possession of her apartment as expected. There is no dramatic story line running through this film. Instead, it is about the characters, but they do not develop much over the course of the film. So what that leaves you is a set of little portraits or vignettes. But these characters are ordinary, white, affluent, moderately educated, generally uninteresting people. So this seems like a setup for an extremely boring movie, except that the acting is stellar and the script is moderately witty.

All these actors are so strong that you don’t really care that there is basically no story, no dramatic tension. Little quotidian things do happen, such as the two sisters, Hall and Peet bickering, Platt cheating on Keener, the daughter Steele wanting expensive jeans her mother won’t buy, the anxiety of how much money one should give street people. None of it builds story or character, and none of it contributes to a contemporary theme you could name. But again, the writing is sharp and the acting mesmerizing, and that’s enough to carry the picture.

No comments:

Post a Comment