Friends With Money

Friends With Money

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Director Nicole Holofcener is something of a Sundance Film Festival success story, coming through the Sundance Institute and showing her first feature length movie Walking And Talking in Park City back in 1996. It seems apt, then, that Friends With Money was chosen to open Sundance, 2006.

It is an ensemble comedy drama which could do for fortysomething women what Sideways did for fortysomething men. The emphasis is on relationships within families, with friends and with cold hard cash.

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Jane (Frances McDormand, proving again what a versatile actress she is), Christine (Catherine Keener) and Franny (Joan Cusack) are the mates with the moolah - plus husbands and kids - while Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) is undergoing a period of life reassessment after giving up her teaching job, or, to quote pal Jane, "She's unmarried, she's a pothead and she's a maid."

Anyone familiar with Bridget Jones will be recognise the "smug marrieds" syndrome. But there is a lot more to these relationships than that. While moneyed Franny is living the dream with loving hubby Matt (Greg Germann), things are on the rocks for Christine and husband David (Jason Isaacs). Jane and her man Aaron (Simon McBurney), on the other hand, have a loving relationship, put under strain by her impending menopause. It is the characters' attitudes to cash, however, that is key and the difference between Olivia and the rest puts a strain on their long-standing friendships.

The script is full of witty gems, while still remaining rooted in reality. The only problem is that some of the characters are less fleshed out than others. Franny and Matt have little to do except be the perfect pair and Isaacs does his best with what is a thinly written role. However, when the characters work, they shine. Aniston is perfect as Olivia, unsure of where her life is going and trying to find her way and McDormand gets her teeth into the meatiest role in the movie. McBurney is also wonderfully cast as the slightly effeminate Aaron who keeps getting accused of being gay.

While this isn't for special-effects fanatics, if you get your kicks from character-driven drama, this is for you. It neatly shows how people's attitude to money, or the lack of it, can creep into every area of your life.

Reviewed on: 22 Jan 2006
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The effect money has on the friendship of four women.
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Read more Friends With Money reviews:

The Exile ****

Festivals:

Sundance 2006

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If you like this, try:

Sideways