Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, the comedy-drama Please Give (2010) has to do with moral responsibility when it is unmet (except in the case of Rebecca [Rebecca Hall]) and with feeling guilty. Kate (Catherine Keener) hands out money to the homeless and contemplates doing volunteer work only in order to assuage her guilt over exploiting the deaths of elderly people who own valuable furniture. Only near the film’s conclusion does she conduct a form of giving which is not just a means of reducing guilt, as when she agrees to buy her teenaged daughter a pair of costly jeans. Her culpability is nothing, however, compared with that of some other characters, who are nevertheless guilt-free. Whence comes this reality?
Holofcener (Friends With Money) is a true artist–and an intelligent one. This despite the fact that Please Give provides an unearned happy or optimistic ending. It resolves itself with scenes of family affection, which is inadequate.
Even so, the film is absorbing and the acting is utterly winning.