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Friends With Money

A movie directed by Nicole Holofcener

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Minimal Story Allows Backdrop for Observing Work of Superb Actresses

  • Aug 30, 2006
Rating:
+3
Nicole Holofcener has a take on everyday life today that relies more on simply dropping in on conversations among diverse friends and allowing those conversations to create a story. In FRIENDS WITH MONEY she has written and directed a smart film that admirably allows us to sit back and watch some very gifted actors at work.

The friends with money include Franny (Joan Cusack) whose main concerns are being a housewife/mother and figuring out how to give money to which charity function and pass spending by her husband Matt (Greg Germann); Christine (Catherine Keener) who is co-writing a screenplay with husband David (Jason Isaacs) in an act which mirrors deeper problems with their relationship; and Jane (Frances McDormand) who is bitter, refuses to wash her hair, has conflicts with nearly everyone she meets, and is married to a gender vague husband Aaron (Simon McBurney) who loves Jane but also is attracted to men. The fourth member of the quartet of friends is Olivia (Jennifer Aniston), a sad ex-teacher who makes her living as a maid and is decidedly the friend without money. The story involves intermittent crises among these couples, with Olivia being the victim role the other three try to correct, first by setting her up with Franny's Personal Trainer Mike (Scott Caan), a manipulative user, then thwarting her requests for a loan to become a personal trainer. The most unlikely match develops between Olivia's 'cheapskate' employer Marty (Bob Stephenson) who, while unattractive and on the surface is undesirable, happens to be the only happy door that opens for Olivia.

The quartet of women selected to portray these friends is one of the happiest surprises of the year: Aniston, McDormand, Keener, and Cusack prove they are some of our best actors on screen today. And the men are equally fine. This is a cerebral movie, one that may seem to drag at times because of the intentional lack of a story thread, but it is one this viewer will watch repeatedly because of the timely dialogue and the consummate skill with which it is delivered! Grady Harp, August 06

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More Friends With Money (2006 movie... reviews
review by . October 19, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Cast, McDormand, Anniston     Cons: subdued humor     The Bottom Line: A complex look at the lives of 4 friends in mid life. Humorous and thoughtful     This feature film was released in September 2006 and I picked it up at the local Blockbusters in October 2006. This tells me that it didn't do well at the theaters and was rushed to DVD to recoup expenditures. I must say that I did not have high hopes for this but got it anyway due …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #104
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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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 TalkingandLovely 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 Moneyis strictly a matter...
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