May 2, 2010

REVIEW: Please Give

It's a measure of just how good Nicole Holofcener is that her new movie, Please Give, survives Catherine Keener's one-note central performance. It's not so much that it's one-note so much as the wrong note. Her passive-aggressive deadpan works best when she's the trouble-maker in the pack — in Hololofcener's previous Lovely and Amazing, or Being John Malkovich, where she threw John Cusack wonderfully off balance, but she seemed to be restraining herself from doing the same in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and it came off like smugness, grinning her way through that movie as if at some joke she had yet to share with the class. In Please Give she's playing a rich Manhattanite who cannot stop herself from giving money to men on the street out of guilt from her job taking furniture off the hands of the recently bereaved. She's all wrong for someone overly-concerned about others, even out of misplaced guilt: she delivers the same matte anti-performance she always delivers — that grin is still there, off stage — and her hand-wringing comes off as shtick. No matter. The film is still beautifully done: a string of pearls about Manhattan ethics and real estate, with the biggest laughs coming from a bluntly truth-telling old bird whose apartment Keener is keen to snap up, with Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall perfectly cast as the old bird's bickering grand-daughters. Peet is tanned and tart, and Hall gets more mesmerising with each role, her heart and hesitancy in constant visible battle on that pale, beautiful face — a Modigliani in nurses' scrubs.

Indiewire reports that — surprise surprise — in a crowded field that includes The Human Centipede, "Tom Six’s much-buzzed about horror film about crazy man named Heiter who attempts to literally connect three very unlucky people via their gastric system," Please Give has emerged triumphant at the weekend box-office. Don't you just love the teeming multitude, sometimes? If I ever make a movie I, too, would like to open opposite a movie about one man's attempt to link three people via their gastric systems.

1 comment:

  1. "Please Give" is independent drama. It is a story of husband and wife. "Please Give" is not entertaining; neither will it remain in your mind for quite some time