Posted on 06 May 2010.
By Benji Carver
R, 90 mins., 2010
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Sarah Steele and Oliver Platt
Directed by Nicole Holofcener
Screenplay by Nicole Holofcenter
At the center of Nicole Holofcenter’s new film “Please Give” are four women of various ages whose lives intersect while living in the ever-needy place called New York City.
These women are played by the always lovable actresses Catherine Keener, Rebecca Hall (an actress we keep growing to love at the movies,) Amanda Peet (an actress we love to hate,) and Sarah Steele, a great young actress whom we are willing to love even more after watching this film.
What ties these particular women together are their city apartments, family members, antique furniture, and breasts. The opening credit montage consists of a series of mammograms, which show breasts in all shapes, ages, and sizes, giving us a very awkward but hilarious opening about these particular women.
Nicole Holofcenter script binds this together almost perfectly with very few missteps – a subplot involving an antique pot – that could be deleted from one’s memory once sitting through the film. Holofcenter writes these women and their families with such sound dialogue that makes you wonder if Woody Allen might be jealous of not having written this down first.
What should also be noted is her subtle direction on bringing out these great performances. She is someone who likes to place the camera in medium shots and let the actors go at it.
The most successful example of this is a dinner scene where all the women and one husband (Oliver Platt in his most lovable butterball role in years) sit down and discuss various topics all the while getting under each other’s skin.
Another scene, involving a father (Platt) and his daughter (Steele) who has learned that he is having an affair with the Peet’s character, is touching because none of them confront each other in a loud argument. Instead, they do it in a quite almost whispering voice way, they know each others secret but handling it in a very tender for the camera to pick up.
Holofcenter knows and loves her actors so well that its a delight to see a mature blending of this tender drama and organic comedy. Not since writings of Woody Allen and John Patrick Shaley have New Yorkers looked this compelling on the screen.
While each character have their own great moments, the award for the best lines and keeping the film bit goes to Amanda Peet, one of her best in years. She specializes in cynical skin peeling characters that we have seen in “Changing Lanes” and short-lived TV series “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” Her character of Mary does what we all like to see her do best. She packs such a sucker punch when she tells Platt, “ I’m going to stop f***ing you now.”
“Please Give” gives us a film that is tender, funny, even emotionally brutal at times, yet it always makes us want to come back for more. It’s one of the very best film so far this year.