As we move toward a summer movie season dominated by larger-than-life spectacle, the latest movie by Nicole Holofcener has come along to remind audiences of the simple pleasures of watching real people struggle through the difficulties of everyday life.
Anyone familiar with Holofcener’s previous work, like Lovely And Amazing, will know what to expect from Please Give -- a gentle comedy about lost and neurotic people not too distant from our own lives.
“I guess type-A personalities don’t draw me in as much as someone who might be lost,” she says about her interest in these types of characters.
“It’s not a flaw, but a kind of limitation that is dramatic, tragic, and common. People have to be screwed up to be a movie, otherwise they’re in a commercial.”
Please Give is about a wealthy New York couple (Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt) who live in an apartment with an elderly neighbour whom they are waiting to die so they can knock down a wall and expand their home.
It’s a strange, guilt-ridden existence, but one that Holofcener took from real life.
“I had a friend who had a similar relationship with an elderly neighbour in New York, but they got along, unlike in the movie,” says the director.
“I thought it was such a weird relationship to have with your neighbour. You know, riding up in the elevator and being like, ‘How are things going?’ That’s where it came from.”
This examination of guilt is a reoccurring theme in the filmmaker’s work.
However, Please Give takes a slightly more jovial approach to the material, poking fun at Keener’s character’s obsession with guilt and how it needlessly cripples her.
Holofcener is quick to admit to a fascination with the subject, even if she’s grown dismissive of it.
“I guess it probably comes from my absorption with guilt and my growing awareness of how pointless, narcissistic, and comical it is.
“Guilt and pity don’t help anybody. I heaped those qualities on Keener’s character and watched her make a fool of herself in a way that I guess I have felt about myself.”