class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-26046″ title=”Please Give Poster” src=”×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”220″ height=”150″ />Please Give will very likely be placed in competition with its UK box office companion, Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, and may suffer the same reduction that film did – here we have a film concerning wealthy white people looking inwardly for validation, with not much actually happening.

It’s an unfair reduction, but one which writer/director Nicole Holofcener must be getting used to. And to my mind there’s nothing wrong with using this as a basis as long as you have a good story to tell and  you create interesting characters to do so.

Please Give is a witty, intelligent bleak comedy which has those inevitabilities, death and taxes (or money), at its heart. Holofcener regular Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt are modern day, legitimised grave robbers, hired by surviving relatives to scour the apartments of their recently deceased family members in order to buy up furniture and items of value to sell on in their trendy store.

Guilt ridden and dependent on this line of work, Keener and Platt’s marriage and partnership is further affected by their ninety one year old neighbour (whose adjoining apartment they have already bought) and her two chalk and cheese granddaughters played by Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet. Their uneasy relationship develops as they couple and break away through love, lust and momentary bonding through soul searching dialogues before walking away.

There are moments of broad, trailer-friendly comedy but for the most part this ensemble character study takes in themes of fear and self-loathing in New York, class guilt and the notion of value, both financial and human, and sprinkles epiphanies along the way and Holofcener wisely allows her characters to find those moments – or walk by without noticing them, and this is part of the film’s success.

The cast is uniformly excellent, each adding their own twist to their character, allowing a  third dimension to come out. The script ebbs and flows with a rich, caustic wit, every moment helped by Holofcener’s camera which does great work in keeping a voyeuristic distance and maintaining the rhythms of conversation despite some hectic editing.

Rebecca Hall stands out in this female lead comedy, as far from the Sex and the City foursome as can be. The stark, often unattractive look at relationships and life doesn’t dole out answers as you exit the cinema, and the moments of quiet reflection within the crackling tension of the strained couplings are where the film pays off.

Please Give is out in the UK now.