Fellow Movie Lovers
A vastly anticipated film by the talented Nicole Holofcener fell far short of expectations for this film devotee; even the title lacked credibility.
There are solid but predictable performances by Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet. But two characters played by Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Christina Barcelona”) and Sarah Steele were worth focusing on and salvaged the film from total tedium.
The title implies a plea for a charitable contribution; living in a major metropolis, where it is easy to develop a relationship with some of the indigents; they “rent” their corners or steps, become part of our visual landscape, and are religious in protecting their turf. There is a guilt that some of the fortunate feel for the less endowed or financially deprived and those soliciting capitalize on that guilt. This is fair; it is a tough way to survive and one of my favorites is a man who is “blind” but is an actor of sorts because his blindness is a ruse and my guilt lies in the fact that I know he sees me and would be hurt if I did not give; so I have helped support him over the years and it is a relationship that has been mutually beneficial to both.
In “Please Give” Kate (Catherine Keener) and her husband Alex (Oliver Platt) sell used furniture purchased from “dead peoples children”. They live next door to Andra, a cantankerous woman (delightfully depicted by Ann Morgan Giulbert) approaching her ninety- first birthday and have made it obvious that her demise would be gleefully welcomed, precipitating their planned expansion of their home, which they share with their caustic, attractively disadvantaged teenaged daughter Abby (Sarah Steele, a gifted talent in the embryonic stages).
Kate and Alex are at a stalemate in their marriage, or maybe the partnership, devoid of passion, is just stale. She tries to purchase from those less endowed her salvation and he, bereft of literary curiosity, seeks stimulation from television personalities or the obvious, mundane male diversion.
An unlikely friendship develops between Andra’s caring granddaughter Rebecca (sensitively played by Rebecca Hall) and Abby; they are analytic, intelligent and insightful young adults and rescue the film from the banality which surrounds them.
Leaving the theatre I was approached by two young women who asked me what the message or moral of the film was; after a twenty- four hour marination process I have concluded two things. Primarily Kate, looking to the homeless, physically or mentally challenged to fill the vacant canyon in her soul would be better served by several sessions on a psychologist’s couch.
Secondly, if you are a fifteen year old with bad skin feel free to verbally attack the parent who gifted you the affliction.
I can barely “give” “Please Give”,
Caveat. Your movie appetite would be satisfying satiated by seeing “The Secret in Their Eyes”; winner of the Academy Award for best Foreign Film.