Irreverent, awkward and pointedly hilarious, Nicole Holofcener’s (Friends with Money) latest multi-narrative ensemble is an ode to ‘first world’ guilt. With a nod to Woody Allen (and his hometown), Holofcener once again sees the world through her cinematic alter ego Catherine Keener.
Kate (Keener) owns a trendy furniture store along with husband Alex (Oliver Platt), which is stocked with antiques acquired from deceased estates. Their profitable scavenging reaches right next door as they await the passing of their cantankerous next-door neighbour, Andra (Ann Guilbert), in order to kick off their renovation plans. But Kate is forever seeking to assuage her guilt by reaching out to the local homeless population, which in turn raises the ire of her pustular teenage daughter (Sarah Steele). Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet round out the central cast as Andra’s granddaughters, and when everyone gathers to celebrate Andra’s birthday the dysfunctional, New York microcosm is complete.
Holofcener’s masterful writing and vivid characters make for a singular, potentially polarising cinematic experience. Like them or loathe them, the personas in Please Give make for a comedic, affecting and decidedly unvarnished look at the messy stuff of life.
Published in The Big Issue (#363)
Please Give is currently screening in select Australian cinemas