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Release Date: April 30
Director/Writer: Nicole Holofcener
Cinematographer: Yaron Orbach
Starring: Catherine Keener, Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Sarah Steele
Studio/Run Time: Sony Pictures Classics, 90 mins.

Whining and Pining in New York

Nicole Holofcener’s fourth film begins with some of the saddest breasts ever committed to film, as a radiology technician (Rebecca Hall) administers a series of mammograms.

It’s the film’s cleverest sequence, a comic desexualizing of human flesh. It’s also a feint, as Holofcener is not interested in any of the boob’s symbolic virtues. Her story is about that most tedious of subjects: white, liberal, upper-class New York guilt.

Catherine Keener’s middle-aged antique dealer wants to save the world through donations to homeless people, even as her own life falls apart. As her relationships deteriorate with her husband (an understated Oliver Platt), daughter (a luminous Sarah Steele) and her neighbor’s granddaughters (Hall and Amanda Peet), Please Give asks how one person can improve the world, but the takeaway is more “circle the wagons” than “act locally.” The cast occasionally finds nuggets of wisdom in this material, usually when Hall is on screen: Her guarded smile and lively eyes are the brightest moments in an otherwise tiresome film.