Friends with Money: 2 Reviews from

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Friends with Money: 2 Reviews from

Post by Helen8 » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:37 am

Dollars and Sense
Relationships are explored in rich seriocomic gem



DIRECTED BY Nicole Holofcener

Friends With Money is a sterling example of what I like to call movies that exist outside the margins.

Most films, good or bad, feature characters who exist only in the 90 or 120 minutes that we're watching them on screen. Their actions are specifically tied to whatever plot is unfolding during the course of the picture, and we get no sense of their lives outside of what we're being visually presented.

Movies that exist outside the margins successfully convey that what we're watching is merely a brief snippet of the characters' entire lives. Dependent on screenwriters' abilities to flesh out their creations, these movies make it easy to not think of these folks as being alive only as long as we're watching them but to envision them going about their business both before and after the events taking place on the screen.

Friends With Money, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, is that type of movie. Watching gloomy and insecure Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) make ends meet by working as a maid, it's easy to picture her back in middle school, perhaps going through an "ugly duckling" phase that might have scarred her for life. Or after witnessing Christine (Catherine Keener) bicker endlessly with her husband David (Jason Isaacs), we understand it wasn't always like this and find ourselves hoping for a glimpse of happier times -- maybe sharing a joint back at a college kegger, or perhaps gleefully getting soaked as they worked in unison to fix a busted pipe in their first apartment.

Movies that exist outside the margins can often be termed "slice of life" films, but when they're as tasty as this one, a slice won't suffice: We end up longing for the whole pie.

Set in LA, this seriocomic saga centers on the daily activities of four close friends who've known each other for quite some time. Three of them are the friends with money of the title, though two help prove any number of cash-strapped adages: money isn't everything; money can't buy happiness; money can't buy you love -- take your pick. Christine is co-writing a screenplay with David and having a gargantuan upper level added to their existing home, but she's bitter over the fact that her marriage seems to be heading toward a cliff. Meanwhile, Jane (Frances McDormand) is a fabulously successful clothing designer who's married to the terrific Aaron (Simon McBurney), but she's harboring such deep reservoirs of anger that any provocation -- a slow-moving waiter, someone taking her parking space -- seems to send her completely over the edge. Of the three, stay-at-home mom Franny (Joan Cusack) is the wealthiest and, interestingly, the most stable in terms of her marriage, friendships and emotions. Perhaps not coincidentally, she also comes across as the most coolly detached of the bunch.

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AND . . .

Ladies first
Female tales take the lead in Friends with Money


4 stars

In Nicole Holofcener's spry debut film Walking and Talking, Manhattan Gen-Xers grappled with being single in the city and the bittersweet pangs of growing up and putting away childish things.

In Holofcener's third film, Friends with Money, those characters -- or at least women who look a lot like them -- have grown up, established careers, married and had children. But though the circumstances are different, the angst remains the same. Whether thirtysomething or fortysomething, the opinionated, flinty, oh-so-real women in Holofcener's films are still part of the generation that thinks too much.

Vanity Fair describes Friends with Money as "a female Big Chill for Generation X," a pretty apt summation of the belly-gazing that characterizes the hypercritical best friends in Holofcener's universe.

To many viewers, the complaints of the neurotic, well-off Left Coasters in Friends with Money may seem ludicrous for such an enormously privileged lot, with their glamorous jobs, svelte figures, great haircuts and hip digs.

Christine (Catherine Keener) and her husband, David (Jason Isaacs), are screenwriters who work from home and are in the process of super-sizing their modest but hip bungalow. Jane (Frances McDormand) and Aaron (an adorable Simon McBurney) are, respectively, a fashion designer and a metrosexual manufacturer of high-end toiletries who everyone assumes is gay.

for Christine and David to distract themselves from their crumbling marriage in a very expensive home addition.

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