I’m talking about the latest offering from writer- director Nicole Holofcener- Please Give. Somewhat of a hero for women writers and directors everywhere, Holofcener does what very few other women, or indeed men, do. She writes wonderfully witty and emotional comedy centered around women. She shows us what Sex and The City could have been, if it hadn’t presented all women as clichéd brain-dead morons, (Holofcener ironically directed a number of Sex and The City TV episodes).
Please Give is the story of a couple, Kate (Catherine Keener, who has starred in all three of Holofcener’s films) and Alex (Oliver Platt), who own a cool second-hand furniture store on the Lower East Side. What makes their take on retail unusual is that they source all their stock from the grieving relatives of the recently deceased.
The problem is that Kate is racked by guilt by what they do and she regularly gives money to the homeless people on her street, much to the irritation of her teenage daughter who is paranoid about her skin and spends the film trying to persuade her mum to buy her a pair of $200 jeans.
Kate and Alex have bought an apartment next door to an absolutely hilarious, straight-taking 91 year old, Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert), who is the epitome of a grumpy old person.
Andra’s granddaughter Rebecca (Rebecca Hall), who is a mammogram technician, visits her regularly, while her sister Mary (Amanda Peet) works in a beauty salon and only makes occasional visits. The relationship between the two sisters is, for me, one of the highlights of the film. Their contrasting personalities, Rebecca caring and patient, Mary impatient and entirely unsympathetic, means they bicker constantly and pepper the film with fantastic, witty one-liners.
The film covers a huge array of life, zipping through the emotions and actions we all go through from death, to guilt, to sex, to friendship, to family dynamics. It will make you laugh out loud and be reduced to tears. Holofcener can at times use humour that is a little obvious, for example the opening sequence of breasts being screened one after another, although at other times it is the undercurrents of irony that make you chuckle.
With Please Give Holocener has nailed what Woody Allen struggles to do anymore . It’s a rare treat to feel such a mixture of emotions so powerfully in a film and to find a group of actors that are as convincing as they are in this film.
Please Give is in cinemas now.
Here is the trailer:
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