Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Friends with Money

Friends with Money
Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener,
Scott Caan, Simon McBurney, Jason Isaaca and Greg Germann

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: April 7, 2006 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

"Femme centric" contemporary life is further explored by savvy indie filmmaker Nicole Holofcener in Friends With Money. The director of Walking and Talking and Lovely and Amazing continues her direct, insightful look into culture and relationships, not just when it comes to marriage and issues of body image.

Four well regarded performers (Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener) are put in unglamorous situations in Holofcener's witty screenplay without hardly any "big" moments. But, their characters are nicely established and interesting that brings much integrity to the interactions taking place.

Friends with Money works off the notion that Aniston's pot-smoking Olivia is a struggling woman, personally and professionally, now trying to make ends meet as a free-lancing house cleaner after a teaching career goes against the fulfillment she thought it would bring to her.

Olivia's longtime, more driven best friends make fun of her attitude and are doing well financially and are married. There's Cusack's Franny, Keener's Christine, and McDormand's Jane. Yet, the experiences in their lives may not be all that dissimilar from anxities felt by their unambitious friend.

The offbeat Olivia has a fine complexion due in part to traversing counters procuring plenty of free samples. She is a gullible sort, ribbed at by her best friends, following many suggestions she hears. Aniston has some risible, effective scenes with Franny's personal trainer (Scott Caan) as he is flexible enough to experience her new line of work.

Jane is a fashion designer who prices chic clothes very high and hates waiting in line or having someone park in her spot. During the movie she stops washing her hair and McDormand exhibits some of the spark felt in North Country" and Laurel Canyon.

Jane is married to an effeminate, loving man (Simon McBurney) and her friends feel it's important to point out the importance to talk about what his outward traits signal, metrosexual or gay. He'll become chums with a married guy who is like him, even with the same first name, Aaron.

Christine and her husband (Jason Isaacs, doing a good American accent) are bickering, hard-working screenwriters who also have plenty going on domestically. That includes a second-story addition to their house that will be cause for concern, at least to Christine.

Cusack is good as Franny, an LA suburban mom, who is in the best marriage setting, due in part to their true independent wealth. She and husband Matt (Greg Germann) are about to make an extremely large donation to their child's school. There's a telling conversation between Franny and Olivia as Franny is looking for a small loan from her friend. Matt and Franny are pretty happily married while Matt really indulges on toys and objects for their son that leads to money issue discussions. He doesn't think that the generosity could even lead to some trouble down the road.

Holofcener presents the lives of four women in or nearing early middle age in funny, perceptive ways utilizing an LA-based production over about a month shoot from Santa Monica to Sherman Oaks. Friends with Money knows what life is like now and what you can or cannot do with money being a factor, but not always as one may think. Notions of self-worth and human bonding are recognized honesty in a film that may find disfavor with some who don't like those "pop-up" endings.

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Friends with Money B     B       B

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