Trailer Talk: ‘Please Give’


It’s fortuitous that I was assigned “Please Give” since I’m one one of those people who feels incredibly guilty about the homelessness so prevalent in a city like Vancouver. If I could, I’d like to indulge the readers with a personal anecdote which has some bearing on the film.

I was waiting for a bus when I was approached by a disheveled, obviously hungry, homeless woman. I asked her if I could get her a slice of pizza. She agreed and mentioned that she wanted pepperoni. Unfortunately the pepperoni was sold out so I got her what I felt was a healthy choice: vegetarian. When I came out and offered it to her she rejected it. If pepperoni was unavailable, she now wanted ham and pineapple. I complied. I was elated at this turn of events. It knocked me squarely off my sanctimonious, holier than thou perch. It reminded me that giving shouldn’t be about making the giver feel good. It also reminded me that the homeless don’t necessarily have to be thankful for the crumbs that we throw their way. They have every right to be angry at the unfairness of their situation. They also have the right to demand.

The character of Kate in “Please Give” is one of those earnest sorts of people. She’s beset by doubt and guilt — eager to do the right thing but conflicted in the very choices she makes and how she goes about them.

The clip signals that kind of confusion right off the bat when in the very first scene we witness how even the best of intentions can backfire. Kate wrongly assumes that a man waiting outside for a seat in a restaurant is in need of food and offers him her leftovers. He’s standing, he’s racially mixed, his clothes are not new and thus, in her eyes, he appears to fit her stereotypical profiling of homelessness. There is irony aplenty here but it’s not mean and it doesn’t come at the expense of the characters of Kate and Alex. This telling introduction more or less sets the tone for the rest of the clips which follow. We’re in uncharted territory when it comes to unraveling the mysterious web which links people and actions together.

This is Nicole Holofcener’s fourth movie and all have featured Catherine Keener, a sort of de facto muse, who has the gift to imbue a character with both frailty and resilience. What Holofcener does well is serious comedy and “Please Give” appears to fall squarely in that genre.

There is laughter to be had at the silliness of some of the situations and relationships, but the laughter never comes at the expense of the characters and while there may be a slight undercurrent of political consciousness at work in “Please Give,” it’s not heavy handed or moralizing.

From the brief clip, it’s clear that the director is intent on exploring the contradictions inherent in the acts of both giving and taking in a fundamentally materialistic world. In so doing, she is also intent on exploring the ramifications of both of these acts when it comes to navigating modern relationships within an immediate and extended nucleus of family, friends and neighbors.

Serious comedy is a hard balance to achieve, but Holofcener has proven with past movies that she’s more than up to the task and it’s probably fair to say that “Please Give” is unlikely to disappoint those willing to seek it out.

“Please Give” — which also stars Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall and Thomas Ian Nicholas — premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Source: Trailer Addict

. . .

Follow Josiane Ochman on Twitter at

11 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Cam Smith #

    Hey, good to see a fellow Vancouverite joining the IJM fold! Very nicely written debut piece, I’m looking forward to reading your future work!

  2. 2

    Hey so cool to see my review up there. I love that, I need to tell my friends to come here and read it. More publicity for this awesome website. Thanks for posting it. Will look forward to writing more reviews. It’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship, haha, echoes of Casablanca, I know but that’s what happens when you’re an incurable film buff.

  3. Rini #

    This trailer talk review was well written and your anecdote seemed apt with the trailer and premise of the film. It will be interesting to see this film when it becomes available. This was a lovely debut piece.

  4. 4

    Great Review… Loved how you started out with a personal anecdote. It’s interesting cause as a New Yorker I worry that I’ve become immune to the problem of homelessness and I think its important to have films that well… for lack of a better term bring it up. Also humor is a great way to send a message across I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for this film. =)

  5. Annie Sentieri #

    Even though I haven’t seen this movie, I really like the personal touch that was brought up before introducing the real subject of Trailer Talk. Well written Josiane should commit writing a novel. keep us entertain.

  6. 6

    Thanks everybody I enjoyed reading your comments. It makes me feel like I want to write more so will do shortly.

  7. Donna #

    Your personal anecdote adds a great deal to an already good overall review, Josiane. It definitely makes me want to see the movie. The subject matter brings to light some questions regarding our own deep-seated prejudices and misunderstandings within ourselves.

  8. PattiaD41 #

    Another wonderfully written article. I never heard of this movie, but your article makes me want to see it

  9. bigge3021 #

    I agree with everyone’s comments that I love your personal anecdote to your article especially when it relates to this film. This is the first time that I heard about this film but I’m usually a fan of serious comedies so I will be checking out this film as well. Great debuting article, Josiane. =)

  10. annielicious14 #

    If I didn’t want to see this before, I want to see it now! That was so well written. Thank you! The personal touch at the beginning was the major selling point for me! Kudos!!!

  11. Casey C #

    Loved the personal touch in your article, I had never thought of things like that.

    this movie looks great. I LOVED “Friends with Money” so I’ll definitely have to see this one. Katherine Keener is wonderful.