FRIENDS WITH MONEY
Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) has given up teaching and is working as a maid, to the dismay of her well-to-do friends Frannie (Joan Cusack), Jane (Frances McDormand) and Christine (Catherine Keener). Frannie and husband Matt (Greg Germann) spend much time deciding which charity to support, and are planning to host a table at an elaborate charity function. Jane and her slightly effeminate husband Aaron (Simon McBurney) are successful designers, while Christine is a script-writer who collaborates with her husband David (Jason Isaacs), despite the fact they are unable to communicate. They are also concerned about Olivia and the fact she is not able to maintain a proper relationship.
Review by Louise Keller:
Life is full of problems, whether you have money or not. Nicole Holofcener's aptly titled, wryly observant film about friends and money is bitter and sweet in equal parts. Women will especially relate to the issues, situations and conversations, as four female friends share and confront their most intimate problems. Marriage, success, self-worth and communication are put under the microscope and the result is funny, poignant and ripe with truths. This is the kind of script actors love, and the fine ensemble cast nails the nuances of their vastly different characters beautifully. From complex issues to the trivial, we learn something new about each of the characters every second. All the little trivial things that life dishes up are not trivial at all.
In the opening sequence, we meet the characters in their everyday environments. Jennifer Aniston as the maid Olivia is tidying drawers and cleaning toilets; Catherine Keener's Christine is enthusing about the new second storey extension; Joan Cusack's Frannie is having quality family time; Frances McDormand's Jane waits patiently for her husband to decide which shirt to wear. When they meet over dinner at a restaurant, the conversation is as mixed as their situations, flitting from kids tv shows, smoking, cashmere sales and the upcoming charity event which Frannie is organising.
There's a moment when Frances McDormand's terminally angry Jane crashes into a glass door at the supermarket. It is a pivotal moment and in the course of the film, each character symbolically has a crash of sorts, when the crunch comes. Happiness is relative and when it comes to relationships, perhaps 'right at the time' is not necessarily the best reason to commit. There is denial and acceptance, as truths and phobias are confronted. Everyone will connect with some aspect of the emotions the characters are feeling.
Like Holofcener's 2002 film, Lovely and Amazing, Friends With Money offers an enticing keyhole through which we can peer. Does money bring happiness? Fortunately the film is much too well written to be simplistic enough to provide an answer, although there is a nice twist to the ending, allowing a layer of complexity to settle on the issue.
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FRIENDS WITH MONEY (M)
CAST: Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Greg Germann, Simon McBurney, Jason Isaacs, Scott Caan, Ty Burrell
PRODUCER: Anthony Bregman
DIRECTOR: Nicole Holofcener
SCRIPT: Nicole Holofcener
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Terry Stacey
EDITOR: Robert Frazen
MUSIC: Rickie Lee Jones, Craig Richey, Deb Talan, Steve Tannen
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Amy B. Ancona
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 31, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: January 24, 2007