Friends with Money
Dir. Nicole Holofcener. 2006. R. 88mins. Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, Jason Isaacs.
Holofcener has made her reputation as a writer-director with two films (Walking and Talking and Lovely & Amazing) that focus on women’s relationships with each other. Friends with Money continues that exploration, and a skeptic might say she is stuck in a rut. Wrong. The real conversations women have rarely end up on film or television, and Holofcener is a sorely undervalued chronicler of the ties that bind women together. Friends offers the pleasure of conversation that is smart without being glib, moving without being melodramatic, and funny without suggesting a missing laugh track.
The film follows the complicated relationships of four friends whose lives are hitting various rough patches. Olivia (Aniston), the youngest of the group, has quit a teaching job, and now cleans houses to make ends meet. Clothing designer Jane (McDormand) has hit middle age hard, and is suddenly given to unpredictable rages over trivial matters like a stolen parking spot. Screenwriter Christine (Keener) finds herself falling out of love with her husband and writing partner (Isaacs). Only the megawealthy Franny (Cusack) seems immune, mostly worrying about whether her friends could be happier.
As usual for Holofcener, the film focuses on conversation rather than action, and she has one of the best ears of any screenwriter today for the way people really talk to each other. Our chief complaint about this wonderful movie is that it ends too soon. We wanted more.—Hank Sartin