Please Give Nicole Holofcener

Please Give Nicole Holofcener
Nicole Holofcener has a knack for writing self-involved and narcissistic, yet strangely self-aware and conflicted, characters that tell it like it is or reluctantly adapt to collective delusions and proprieties despite knowing better. She's like a slightly less affected and inherently mean-spirited version of Noah Baumbach, speaking sagaciously about superficiality in modern times from within, juxtaposing the imposing social obligation of wealth and the faux-do-gooder image of trendy liberal platitudes. Please Give is her most assured work to date, mixing realistic characters with awkward, but identifiable, situations and genuinely funny comedy. Cathy (Catherine Keener) owns a vintage furniture and design store with husband Alex (Oliver Platt). More succinctly, as Alex points out to curious clients, they "buy things from the children of dead people." They've also bought the apartment next to them in their upscale NYC apartment building hoping to break down the walls and expand their home (a theme prevalent in Holofcener's last film, Friends with Money). The only problem is that they have to wait for their neighbour, Andra (Ann Guilbert), to die in order to do so. Cathy's guilt about this and her line of work lead to many failed efforts and charity, and a dreadful attempt at friendliness with Andra's granddaughters, Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) and Mary (Amanda Peet). She even invites everyone over for a birthday party one night, which inspires a memorable and hilarious dinner scene mostly because Mary has absolutely zero tact, asking outright what they plan to do with her grandmother's apartment after she dies. As an accessible character study relevant to a contemporary urban climate, this story of modern guilt succeeds impressively and with subtlety. The DVD includes some outtakes, along with a behind-the-scenes featurette and director Q&A, where Holofcener discusses her approach to writing and her tendency to cast Catherine Keener in all of her movies. (Sony)