Please Give from writer-director Nicole Holofcener was a very thoughtful film that touched on the themes of death, family, adultery, self-esteem and beauty while remaining funny the whole way through. Holofcener excels at this type of deep, witty writing, i.e. Lovely & Amazing and Friends With Money.
This film is about husband and wife Cathy and Alex (Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt). They run a store that sells vintage furniture, that they buy for cheap from the relatives of deceased people. They upsell all the items, which causes a lot of guilt for main character Cathy. She’s extremely caring and conscientious but feels like a terrible person for deceiving people in their time of grief. She is harder on her family than complete strangers but she’s trying to instill morally-driven thought into her daughter.
A neighbor of the family Andra, an elderly woman, doesn’t have good health and Cathy wants to buy her apartment as soon as she dies so they can add onto their own place. This also causes some guilt for her because she starts to really care for Andra’s granddaughter Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) and finds a friend in her. Other minor roles were Rebecca’s bitchy sister Mary (Amanda Peet) and Cathy’s insecure daughter Abby (Sarah Steele). Both of these minor characters were similar despite their age difference. Both young women were insecure about their bodies for different reasons.
One thing director Holofcener really puts foresight into is her casting. Keener is an actress she’s used in the past, with both Lovely & Amazing and Friends With Money. All the actors she uses Platt, Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Emily Moritmer, have all been in the game a long time. They are seasoned and can pull of the writing and character nuances with the grace quality script deserves.
The film was able to stay interesting the whole way through mainly because of its character development. We get to know each of the characters and find out what makes them tick. But since all the characters had a lot of interaction and scenes together it didn’t become confusing and overwhelming to follow.