One of director Nicole Holofcener’s most successful ensemble pieces is low-key but charming, funny and even moving, featuring characters that behave like real people. It’s a perfect marriage between perceptive writing and gifted acting; the entire cast is wonderful, but Catherine Keener is the standout as a New York City furniture dealer who doesn’t know how to channel her immense compassion for people in need in a way that would make her feel happier. Holofcener keeps exploring where different people draw the line for how much time and money they’re willing to give others. Interesting, without ever getting preachy.
2010-U.S. 90 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Anthony Bregman. Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. Cast: Catherine Keener (Kate), Amanda Peet (Mary), Oliver Platt (Alex), Rebecca Hall, Sarah Steele, Ann Guilbert.
Last word: “I start with a few ideas, like the apartment situation in the case of ‘Please Give’. Rebecca’s character was the first. I was inspired by the woman who gives me mammograms. She was a real character. That’s where the opening sequence came from. [The title sequence is a montage of mammogram tests. —ed.] I thought, ‘This will be a funny opening sequence.’ I kind of just start from there and let characters arrive, and if they’re interesting, I’ll let them stay and see how they interact or move the story along.” (Holofcener, AV Club)