Compassion Statement: Keeners character is pathological about giving. s character is pathological about giving.

Ache for the world, and the world aches with you. Or, more precisely, gets irritated by your relentless compassion, which is the case in Nicole Holofcener’s fourth feature, Please Give. Catherine Keener plays Kate, the successful co-owner of a New York City vintage-furniture store. She and her husband, Alex (Oliver Platt), acquire their inventory from estates, buying the unwanted wares of the recently deceased and selling them at markup. The couple, with plans to renovate, have also bought an apartment adjacent to theirs that is currently occupied by a very old lady; whenever Kate tries to be neighborly with the woman’s granddaughters, Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) and Mary (Amanda Peet), she fears her small talk is automatically interpreted as, “So, is she dead yet?” And then there are the homeless, the special-needs kids, shelters full of kittens and puppies and ferrets … and Kate bleeds for them all. Her upper-class guilt compels her to hand out money or food virtually every time she walks down the street, acts occasionally intercepted by her insecure daughter, Abby (Sarah Steele), who’s pissed that she’s been denied a pair of $200 jeans, or by Alex, who questions Kate’s sanity when she offers someone restaurant leftovers. (“He looked homeless,” Kate reasons. Alex replies, “He looked like a black man waiting for a table!”) Like the writer-director’s previous films, Please Give blends melancholy and humor; Keener, Holofcener’s muse, and Hall are somewhat harshly lit to reflect the characters’ angst. Rebecca, who works at a mammogram clinic, is a lonely overthinker who borders on being dour, though she’s much easier to like—and, occasionally, believe—than Mary, a polar-opposite esthetician with a tanning-bed glow who doesn’t mourn her grandmother’s decline, thinks her sister is melodramatic, and flirts with Alex with no regard for anyone’s feelings. The characters and their varying viewpoints on the haves and have-nots are entertaining and thought-provoking, even if Kate’s constant turmoil at times gets so absurd it’ll make the viewer wish you both could pop a Xanax. But Holofcener isn’t aiming to harsh anyone’s buzz. At one point, Alex is giggling as he tells Kate about something Howard Stern did and admonishes: “Don’t wreck my fun.” Likewise, the filmmaker wraps things up with, yes, a bit of a lesson, but it’s one that will make you smile.