After thinking long and hard about director Nicole Holofcener’s Please Give I was able to reach an analysis of the film. Based around characters that are full of self-doubt, Please Give borders on the line between comedic and dramatic.
The premise is quite simple. Actress Catherine Keener takes on the part of antique-furniture-shop-owing Alex who feels incredibly guilty over the fact that there are homeless people throughout the world that she cannot help. Perhaps one the factors that add to her feelings is how she and her husband buy furniture from the families of those whose loved ones have just died. Her husband and daughter are caught up in their own egocentric dilemmas, with one wanting nothing more than a pair of jeans and the other seeming rather bored with his marriage. And so, this family is left to its own devices, facing uncomfortable situations along the way.
The tone of the movie is very blunt, much like the people who the movie centers around.Virtually everyone in the film is awkward in some sense and you’re left hoping that you’re not nearly as neurotic as the individuals on the screen. A sense of neutrality is also abundant, which made me somewhat ambivalent towards this film. There are moments of laughter to be had, but there are dryer parts that make the attempt to evoke tears or at least some sort of sentimental emotion.
One of the problems that I had with Please Give was the lack of sympathy I felt for the characters. Almost none of them are decent people, each having their own problems to deal with and you never are allowed to feel a strong sense of attachment. Sometimes movies do this and it works, but not this time, which is somewhat unfortunate. There’s a striking comparison with the movie Greenberg where once again you’re left to feel unsure about the protagonists.
I didn’t dislike Please Give and I think most people will actually be able to enjoy it, if for nothing else than its painstaking honesty. Yet, funnily enough, I found myself leaving the theater having virtually no opinion about what I had just seen. In short, Please Give is an entirely forgettable movie that one might consider seeing if you’re unable to arrive a decision at what to add on to your Netflix queue.