It took a while to figure out if I liked this movie or not. Well, not really like, but just to think if it was any good (it was). It is a likable movie, though obviously you won’t like everything that’s going on.

But there are those good movies that you won’t like. Take Greenberg from earlier this year. It was decent enough, but I hated it, mostly because of the Greenberg character. He’s someone we were supposed to not like.

In Please Give, there are several characters like that, but also several characters that you will like. Each of them have their own strengths and flaws, and some of them don’t really change at the end. You may sympathize with them, you may pity them, you may do nothing and wonder as to why they react the way they do.

The last reaction comes strongly from Kate, played by Catherine Keener, who is very much an enigma indeed. She’s often racked by guilt: she feels it when she buys furniture from dead people, and she feels it when she tries to find some way to help the poor and less fortunate (she often gives money to random homeless people on the street). There’s a scene towards the end that affects her the strongest though: it involves a group of Down Syndrome adolescents who play sports. She’s amazed at their ability to overcome their disability and succeed, so much so that she breaks down crying. Maybe the guilt gets to her too much, thinking that everyone needs help (she’s well off financially, which is probably why she wants to give so much). By the end though, she remains an enigma: she doesn’t feel any guilt when she buys her daughter Abby a $200 pair of pants. Maybe she’s over it? At least to myself and Liz, it didn’t send her character off well.

But that’s mainly her character. The plot involves an elderly woman, Andra, whose apartment has been purchased by Kate’s family, and the interactions between her family and Andra’s family.  It’s a fairly broad based character study surrounding Andra, though Kate is the central character throughout.  Her husband, Alex, is her business partner and seems to view her more in that regard than as a loving wife, though he does still love her in some way.  Their daughter, Abby, is quite spoiled (yes, she’s one of the characters you’ll end up disliking), and finds more of a commonality with Rebecca, even though she idolizes Mary more (Abby is fifteen years old, probably that age where she thinks $200 jeans and a tan would make her look good).  Rebecca, a radiologist, is somewhat socially awkward, but cares enough for Andra despite the fact that the old woman is quite often rude (she is 91).  Lastly, there’s Mary, a self-centered cosmetologist who is more concerned about being as tan as possible (even if it is fake).

The characters interact well with each other and learn from each other.  Like I said, some do change, some don’t, but it’s life.  Some people will look inside of themselves and wonder why they’re acting that way, and some people will just plow ahead in life without any regard to others.  These characters at least attempt to look at themselves, with Kate being the only real interesting one, mainly because hers was the most difficult to figure out.  She doesn’t, necessarily, but maybe she finally understood that not everyone she comes across needs help.  A moral conundrum indeed, but an interesting one.