SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL REVIEWS - WORLD PREMIERES
by Paul Fischer
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The joy of watching a Nicole Holofcener film is that her films are the antithesis of self-indulgence. As a writer/director, Holofcener has it down to an art: Be as economical as you can, tell the story you want and do not waste a word or a frame. Clocking in at exactly 90 minutes, her latest work, Please Give, is a lesson for all filmmakers, to tell a story in a solid amount of time instead of following the Hollywood excess model.
Please Give, which Sony Classics will release in the US in May, allows the director, many of whose films have premiered at Sundance, to do what she does best: explore the fragility and foibles of human behaviour pretty much as life is presented to us, with both comedy and tragedy. Her work is full of richly defined characters, often women, going through crises and yet she never succumbs to conventional Hollywood tradition by coming up with clear cut solutions. After all, life is not full of happy endings.
Please Give is a perfect film in that Holofcener balances comedy and drama with such effortless grace. While the film feels so universal, at the same time it creates this kind of Woody Allenesque New York tale. New York is an important setting in this film, and serves as a vital character. Cinematographer Yaron Orbach shoots the city beautifully, enhancing its importance yet doing so in a visually understated way.
Holofcener’s characters come to cinematic life with a collage of wonderful performances. The director brings out the best in the great Catherine Keener, whose emotional range and exquisite sense of subtlety are beautifully realised in yet another sublime performance.
British thesp Rebecca Hall always impresses with her diversity and as the younger of the two granddaughters who spends her days as a mammogram technician, desperately searching for her own identity, Hall is exquisite. Oliver Platt is wonderfully funny and provocative as the husband whose marital infidelity forces him to look at a life not as purposeful as he’d hoped. A wonderful actor at best, he fits in snugly and perfectly with this female ensemble.
Please Give is a jewel of a film, intricate, funny and deeply human, another superb and richly crafted offering from a talented filmmaker.
Paul Fischer is originally from Australia. Now he is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.
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