With her third feature,Friends With Money
, writer-director Nicole Holofcener continues to develop one of the most distinctive voices in American independent filmmaking. While not as purely satisfying as her previous filmsWalking and Talking
andLovely and Amazing
, Holofcener's third feature is admirably ambitious in establishing a diverse and dynamic range of relationships among long-time girlfriends, their spouses (for better and worse), and the way in which money (or lack of it) affects them all. The have-not of the group is Olivia (Jennifer Aniston), a teacher-turned pot-smoking housecleaner in the upscale neighborhoods of West Los Angeles. She's drifting, uncertain of her future both professionally and romantically, while her friends Franny (Joan Cusack), Christine (Catherine Keener), and Jane (Frances McDormand) cope with the relatively enviable problems of wealthy discontentment. They've all got personal crises to resolve, and while Olivia juggles the affections of a likable louse (Scott Caan) and a lonely slob who's secretly rich (Bob Stephenson), Holofcener taps a rich vein of humor and melancholy as these women go about their daily routines, attending benefits, chatting over meals, and doting over Olivia as the "needy one" in their closed circle of friendships. All of this is richly observed and wonderfully acted (with male costars played by Greg Germann, Jason Isaacs, and Simon McBurney), but reaction toFriends With Money
is strictly a matter...