How do you make a mammogram funny?

Writer-director Nicole Holofcener manages to, opening her new film, Please Give, with a perky soundtrack over images of breasts being smushed into a mammogram machine. It’s cheeky and touchingly human, just like the film that follows. It’s also a little self-indulgent and overly personal, just like the film that follows.

Holofcener (Walking and Talking, Lovely & Amazing, Friends with Money) has made a career documenting the female side of neurotic well to-doers who combat issues like self-esteem and fidelity, all featuring her muse, Catherine Keener. In their fourth tale of white people problems, Keener stars as Kate, a New York mid-century antiques dealer tortured by the success she and her husband, Alex (Oliver Platt), have achieved by reselling furniture purchased from the families of the recently deceased. To combat her bourgeois guilt, she overcompensates by handing out fives and 20s to homeless people and attempting to volunteer with the less fortunate, which only leaves her in tears, whispering, “It’s just so sad.”

A large part of her unrelenting torment rests on the other side of the wall in the family’s stunning Manhattan apartment. They’ve purchased the adjoining residence but have to wait for their elderly neighbor, Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert), to die so that they can live every New Yorkers dream and expand their living space. In an effort to ease a tense situation, they host a birthday party for Andra – who is both tragically fragile and hilariously blunt – and her granddaughters Mary (Amanda Peet), a tanning bed addicted aesthetician, and Rebecca (Rebecca Hall), a mammogram technician. The fallout from that dinner creates the film’s tapestry of sorrow, regret, joy, fear and kindness.

Please Give spends a great deal of time staring at everyone’s least favorite subject, the end of life. Kate spends her days surrounded by haunted relics of other people’s lives while Rebecca is constantly forced to confront the naked possibility of death and disease, and Mary decrees, “Things get worse, not better.” It’s a tough subject to tackle, but Holofcener handles it with tact and grace, reminding the audience that hope is always around the corner, as is destruction. Darkly funny and refreshingly honest, the movie is like your drunk uncle at Christmas dinner: uncomfortably funny and repellently familiar.

Grade: B

Please Give releases in select theaters April 30.