Friends with Money (2006)

22.

★★★

Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Written by: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener

Nicole Holofcener’s Friends with Money allows us to eavesdrop on the lives of four very different ladies, all going through issues in their relationships when it comes to partners, blind dates and careers. While the story is relatively tame and unexciting, the characters are brought to life with strong performances by a well-cast ensemble of female actresses no one would have thought to put together until now.

Not quite the Sex and the City group

Within the group, there is no one protagonist. Christine (Keener) is building a second story to her house to compensate for the deteriorating relationship between her and her husband, who happens to be her co-screenwriter. Franny (Joan Cusack) sits on a lot of money, but doesn’t know what to do with it when all her friends around her are enriched by their careers. Jane (McDormand) finds herself growing increasingly frustrated and depressed by everything around her, and Olivia (Aniston) can’t help comparing her single self to her married friends whilst juggling a job as a maid and longing for a past lover.

Friends with Money touches on the odd dynamics of such friendship groups with a ring of reality and familiarity as the conversations had behind each other’s backs, or in each other’s faces reveal more about the nature of each character than what actually happens in the film. In this sense, Friends with Money uses its dialogue with a sharp understanding of how friendships work, and how the individual problems of each character are shaped through the support and commentary that are given by their friends. The details behind the film’s conflicts and obstacles are never blatant or cliched. They are exposed with a vulnerability that can only come from a good script and convincing performances.

While Friends with Money doesn’t necessarily try to extend beyond the ordinary desires and struggles of relatively ordinary people, the film does lack the compelling qualities fit for a dramatic film. The stakes aren’t high enough, and as a result, the outcome is neither exciting or anticipated with curiosity or a sense of eagerness from the audience – putting a well-written script and outstanding performances (particularly from Jennifer Aniston) to waste.

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