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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Please, please, please give. Please.

A few weeks ago I watched a wonderful film called Please Give, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. It is the touching tale of Kate, played brilliantly by Catherine Keener. Kate has an exorbitant amount of compassion for those less fortunate. She gives money to every homeless person she passes on the street, she tries volunteering with children who are disabled, and wants to help her elderly neighbor by throwing her a birthday party. Kate is a nice person who wants to help people. So when she realizes that her job, which she shares with her husband Alex (Oliver Platt) buying and re-selling deceased people's furniture in her downtown trendy vintage store is wrong, their plan to buy their dying neighbor's apartment in order to increase the size of their own is selfish and disrespectful and that her overall standard of living is so much higher than the people she feels so much for, her guilt starts to literally eat away at her. We watch Kate actually get thinner as the movie progresses. Things get even more complicated when her compassion becomes compartmentalized and she begins to set standards of who she will help. She'll give twenty dollars to a homeless man but has no tolerance for her body conscious teen daughter who wants to spend two hundred dollars on a pair of jeans. She has no sexual drive with her husband and begins to distance herself from most human interaction. These distractions leads to her husband's indiscretions, her daughter's disrespect and a ton of nasty looks from her neighbors in the hall. Kate's bleeding heart compassion begins to ruin her life. This film struck a few cords in me, mostly because I often times have guilt for the things that I have in my life. I have a good family, great friends and a wonderful husband. I've never really struggled financially, I have been in good health, and I've had a lot of joy. However, because of my blessed life I often have so much guilt that I want to scream. This leads to sadness, this sadness leads to anger, and this anger leads to isolation. I then project all of that onto other situations, which then leads to total disappointment in humanity. The good becomes bad. And I hate that. For example, yesterday I was doing some background work on a film, and the scene consisted of mourners at a 911 memorial, the week after, in an attempt to find missing family members and loved ones. I wanted to do my best and really represent the scene in the way that the director wanted. However, as the day wore on, I was distracted by my own list of complaints, which I ultimately felt guilty about. Yesterday was probably one of the worst days of background I have ever done. AND IT WAS A SANDRA BULLOCK MOVIE. Now I haven't done much, because I wasn't able to work in this country, which is a whole other blog, but it was just awful. It was cold, we stood out there for over two hours, there were two guys who were drunk, there was no communication, limited food and everyone was just miserable. Even writing that last sentence makes me feel so ungrateful and complainy. Just get over it. Right? That's acting. That's what you signed up for. I mean I should be grateful right? But as I left the lovely set dressed memorial representing this awful day in history on a huge transport bus going back to the city, I couldn't help but focus in on the voices of ingratitude of the people around me. I heard the lady behind me complaining about getting a "bump" instead of a fifteen dollar adjustment on her union certified check, or the man in the front of the bus fighting with the driver in regards to exactitude of the drop off point in conjunction with the pick up point which was a difference of five blocks, and the lovely belches of the two drunk guys......... who were still drunk. I just wanted to ask everyone kindly, to think about gratitude instead of negativity, and to please, please, please give. Just a little.


  1. Sounds like an interesting movie from a fascinating perspective. And I agree, there's far too much negativity and complaining around! Let's have a little Zen people!

  2. Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing Kate.