18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
unusual, very enjoyable, beautifully crafted,
This review is from: Please Give [DVD]  (DVD)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable film - fresh, original, neatly scripted, very well acted and directed. Alex (Oliver Platt) and Kate (Catherine Keener, who is outstanding in a very fine cast) make their living by buying retro furniture from the relatives of the recently deceased, which they then sell in a smart specialist shop. Catherine, a nice women, has qualms about the morality of all this - though not sufficiently to stop - and eases her conscience by frequent giving to the on-street homeless, to the annoyance of her 15-year-old daughter who believes she is more generous to these unknowns than to her. Next door lives the waspish and gratuitously rude 90-year-old Andra (Ann Guilbert - also excellent) who is cared for by her kindly but down-trodden grand-daughter Rebecca (Rebecca Hall - the best of the lot, I thought). But Alex and Kate have already bought Andra's apartment in anticipation of her departing this mortal coil, so their relations with Rebecca are rather cool. Rebecca's dysfunctional beautician sister is also about, and there is a marvellously entertaining scene when Alex and Kate invite Andra and both grand-daughters for a meal - Mary is drunk and tactless, Andra as unpleasant as she usually is, Rebecca and Kate embarrassed and the daughter too gloom-ridden about her facial spots to appear ; finally she does, bizarrely and very amusingly disguised. It is the dinner party from hell and great fun to watch.
The plot works itself out enjoyably ; I can't say much about it without spoiling things. In that process we get to know all the characters better and we can feel sympathy for most of them. Rebecca and Kate are very likeable. A lot of the film is gently amusing in a rather off-beat way. It is not an 'issues' film, but the theme of helping the vulnerable and how it is best done gets an airing - and there, late on, we learn something surprising about Andra. The interplay between Alex, Kate and their daughter is very human - they all like each other, but that does not stop them making bad errors of judgement and saying really hard things ; and there is a real element of danger in the family for a while. Rebecca's story develops in an interesting and pleasing way ; Mary's situation remains uncertain. Anyway, the film is certainly fresh and unusual in its plot and central concerns, and the film-making is very accomplished at all levels. That being so - warmly recommended.