This is a wry, well observed, serio-comic study of angst-ridden New Yorkers unhappy with their lot and in some cases secretly misbehaving. It has a Woody Allenesque feel to it, and utilises the same Upper East Side Manhattan streets as his movies.
Keener and Platt play a well-to-do couple who live in a nice apartment on Fifth Avenue. They run a business that entails buying furniture and selling it at their store with inflated prices, and are the parents of a 15-year-old daughter (Steele) who is suffering the pangs of adolescence. They crave the apartment of their next door neighbour, a 91-year-old lady (Guilbert) who is regularly looked after by her shy grand-daughter (Hall). She shares her flat with her less forgiving sister (Peet). They all have dinner together one evening and Platt falls for the gorgeous Amanda. They embark on an affair.
There's nothing overly dramatic about the proceedings, but it gives space for the actors to inhabit their characters fully and they all play off each other with considerable ease and skill. Keener is excellent at projecting her altruistic feelings to the less well fortunate at the expense of her daughter while Platt convincingly displays the traits of a middle aged man craving youthful excitement. That it doesn't satisfy him makes it all the more refreshing in a way. The dynamic between the two sisters is beautifully played by Hall and Peet, constantly needling each other but never overdoing it.
Writer/director Holofcener's fourth movie retains the agreeable indie sensibility of her earlier efforts, Walking and Talking, Lovely & Amazing and Friends With Money. She's terrific at handling actors and draws out the most persuasive and unaffected performances from them. Please Give works just as well - though narratively it tapers off towards the end and doesn't finish on a particulary memorable or satisfying note. But there are some laugh out loud moments and overall it's a very likeable and charming piece, well worth a look.
EXTRAS ★★½ A Q&A with writer/director Holofcener (8:28); a behind-the-scenes featurette (12:08); outtakes (3:59); and the theatrical trailer.