Please give

This afternoon I finally got the chance to see Please Give, a film I had been wanting to see for a few months.  Ever since I saw the trailer somewhere or other.  Anyway, part of the programme at this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival, Please Give is an awkward comedy/drama about middle-class white guilt.  Catherine Keener (love her!) plays Kate, a woman who owns a store (along with her husband, Alex, played by Oliver Platt), selling furniture and other items they have purchased from the children of dead people.  Literally.  They go around to the homes of the recently deceased, find pieces worth a lot of money, buy it fairly cheaply and sell it on at a decent mark-up.  They’ve also bought the apartment next door to them so they can knock through the wall to create a larger apartment for themselves.  The catch being that their elderly neighbour is still alive so they have to wait for her to croak before they can remodel.  Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet play the (difficult) adult granddaughters of the neighbour and are also central to the story, so we get to see both sides of this delightfully awkward situation.  Add to this Alex and Kate’s teenage daughter (always tumultuous) and Kate’s desire to give back (often in the form of cash to bums on the street), and so it goes.

This is a character driven film, so plot takes a back seat, but in my opinion when done correctly this is not at all a bad thing.  As far as I’ve noticed Catherine Keener can do no wrong, and importantly for a character piece, all the other performances are also solid.  Hopefully Please Give will be back in cinemas for a more extended season because it deserves a wider audience than a lot of the rubbish that ends up in the multiplexes these days.

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