Please Give - DVD Review

'Several characters refer to 'visiting the leaves'. Would any person not in an indie film ever refer to sightseeing in the country as 'visiting the leaves'? I doubt it.'

Please Give is written and directed by Nicole Holofcener whose previous efforts, Friends With Money and Lovely And Amazing both also feature Please Give's star, Catherine Keener. They both also seem to share a certain down-played indie sensibility with Please Give which is painfully obvious from the opening few moments. Several characters refer to a magazine article about driving out of the city and 'visiting the leaves' at a certain view-spot where the changing of the seasons can be witnessed en masse. Would any person not in an indie film ever refer to sightseeing in the country as 'visiting the leaves'? I doubt it.

When the film steps out from its annoyingly twee comfort zone there's some good work here, mainly by Amanda Peet as one half of a set of sisters (the other being a dressed-down and dowdy Rebecca Hall) who is cold, slightly deranged and more than a little inappropriate. Her hatred of the grandma (Ann Guilbert, also excellent) who her sister is trying to nurse in old age is delivered with bile and without remorse and although at times the character can be shocking her effectiveness is unmatched throughout the film.

The moral compass of the piece, Oliver Platt's Alex, husband to Keener's Kate, is also effective, Platt adapting the indie sensibility of 'less is more' with good results in his pared down version of his usual shtick.

The story Holofcener wants to tell though - centred on the tensions between Kate's devoted altruism and her mercenary job - is flimsy even for this sort of indie offering. Obviously conflicted morally in a business which involves buying furniture from recently deceased people's children, Kate increasing turns to 'giving' to re-align her shattered psyche.

All fine and good but Holofcener never takes us beyond the obvious. From very early on we quickly see that each character, from grandma to Kate and Alex's daughter Abby (Sarah Steele), is stuck in a similar quandary, each one apparently in need of an external force to move them out of it. It's laughable in both its directness and the direction Holofcener takes some of the stories, particularly Alex's, which stretches the boundaries of credibility beyond belief.

For those of a high indie sensibility only. And even you might struggle.

Look further...

'Mary’s personality seems like a fair representation of the film itself. She’s simultaneously smug and insecure and she’s consistently subverting her own mantra by being ridiculous and immature at times. Please Give thinks it has more to offer than it does' - Encore's World Of TV And Film, C

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