2010-06-04 / Columnists

MovieScope

‘Please Give’ – Antique Chasers
By Robert Snyder

Kate and Alex need people to die.

They manage a fashionable Manhattan antique business of sorts, specializing in mid-century “modern” furniture. As quick as ambulance chasers, when they learn of a death, they leap in and buy up the valuable stuff that grieving family members want to unload. Then, they sell it for profit.

Played to perfection by Catherine Keener, Kate unfortunately is burdened with a conscience, which causes her to distribute cash to every homeless person she passes. This habit annoys husband and partner Alex (Oliver Platt), while enraging 15-yearold daughter Abby (Sarah Steele), who has to beg to get money from Mom for a pair of jeans.

The death wait also involves aged Andrea (hilarious Ann Guilbert, once Millie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”). She lives next door in the antique dealing duo’s upper west side building. Because Andrea’s apartment has already been bought by Kate and Alex, she has a top spot on their death wish list.

Andrea is cared for by her two granddaughters, Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) and Mary (Amanda Peet). In addition to sharing a grandmother, a suicidedeceased mother and an absentee father, they share a residence, yet are as different in disposition as Cain and Abel, Mary being the former to Rebecca’s latter. However, they do have strangely similar jobs: Rebecca is a mammogram radiologist, Mary does facials.

“Please Give” is another quirky addition to writer-director Nicole (“Lovely & Amazing”) Holofcener’s ode to the inter-generational inner-workings of womankind. In a way, Abby, Mary, and Andrea are the same angry female though the ages, with Kate and Rebecca handling the saintly side of things. Plot is on the backburner. Character is where the Holofcener’s cleverness comes. While you’re laughing, don’t be fooled. There’s insight beneath the surface quirkiness.

Check out “Please Give” and see some real Manhattan women, not tailored to “Sex and the City 2.”

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