By Katie Mae Peters

Indie movies are always hit and miss for me. There are times I settle down with my kettle corn hoping to get away from the million dollar budget crowd pleasers and have my mind truly engaged, but end up wasting two hours of my life. Then there are times when a film is so intriguing and enjoyable, I wonder why anything less tantalizing is allowed to be made.

Please Give provides that much needed outlet from mainstream feel good.  Once again Nicole Holofcener created a film that can confidently takes it’s place among her three other indie feature hits which includes Friends With Money.

After a slightly stomach turning opening sequence of mammograms that shows more variety of women’s shapes than a Dove commercial, we’re introduced to the painfully shy and socially awkward radiology technician Rebecca, one of six main characters who live out their everyday lives in front of our eyes. Rebecca Hall portrays a character afraid to experience life for herself and instead hides behind the responsibilities of an ailing grandmother to avoid human interaction, specifically dating. Amanda Peet plays Rebecca’s overly tanned, self-absorbed, cosmetologist sister who puts on a front of confidence. However, after a shallow, short-lived affair she’s exposed for the same insecure lost person her sister openly is.

What Holofcener film would be complete without a Catherine Keener appearance? Keener is perfectly paired in a marriage with Oliver Platt. Together they run an antique furniture store where all the pieces come from estates of dead people. Platt is the calm, dedicated, family man, who is the solid foundation his wife depends on and sometimes takes for granted. Keener constantly tries to relieve her guilt of making money off the deceased by giving cash to every street vagrant she runs into and denying her daughter designer jeans. Keener’s acts of kindness often go awry or are thwarted by irony. Her daughter Abby recounts a time when her good intentioned mother let a homeless woman shower in their apartment only to later find the woman had relieved her self on Abby’s bedroom floor. Sarah Steele brings life to Abby, the pubescent teen daughter Platt and Keener try their best to raise. She’s the fiesty spitfire teen rebelling against anything and everyone while trying to hide her insecurities, even when it entails wearing underwear over her head to hide a zit.

However, Dike Van Dyke alumni, Ann Morgan Guilbert’s performance steals the enitre film. The first scene her ‘menopausal red’ permed head of hair makes it’s appearance, I was immediately reminded of my own grandmother. Guilbert plays the awkward nanna Andra who says whatever she wants whenever she wants; and everyone lets her because they not so secretly wish for her to croak already. She delivers insults in such a brilliant way, the other characters are stunned into awkward silence while the audience is thrust into fits of laughter.

Every person in this film grows little by little throughout the film whether they know it or not. By the end they’re still the same quirky, unique, troubled people introduced at the beginning, but somehow at the same time completely opposite. That’s one of the best things about this story; there are no cataclysmic events like a killer typhoon that destroys half the known world or an unexpected pregnancy from a one night stand, just tiny everyday occurrences such as buying a pair of outrageously priced jeans or walking the dog. It perfectly illustrates how human beings aren’t always thrust into change; our personalities develop from constantly created layers of decisions we make in life.

With so many personalities and stages of life explored at once, every audience member can relate to a character. There are so many various lessons learned and life questions presented each viewer is given the opportunity to walk away with a tad more understanding for their own lives as well as a challenge to fix something that may be hindering their own journey through life.

Please Give reminds us all that our identities never stop evolving; and to just remember, when life gets uncomfortable, wiggle your toes. It’s supposed to help.