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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.45%
Worth A Look43.48%
Average: 13.04%
Pretty Bad: 31.88%
Total Crap: 10.14%

8 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Friends With Money
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Holofcener tries something that doesn't quite work."
3 stars

'Friends with Money' is the third, and easily the least, feature by the gifted writer-director Nicole Holofcener. Previously, she made two small, excellent comedies, 'Walking and Talking' and 'Lovely and Amazing.' Holofcener's way with dialogue and subtle, telling moments saves this one, but we're led by her past efforts to expect more from her.

Catherine Keener is Holofcener's ace in the hole she shone in Walking and Talking and Lovely and Amazing, and she brightens this movie too, as Christine, one of three rich, married Los Angeles women. Franny (Joan Cusack) and Jane (Frances McDormand) are the others, and they all hang out together with Olivia (Jennifer Aniston), a desultory maid who used to be a teacher and thinks she wants to be a physical trainer.

At one point, Franny tells her husband (Greg Germann) that she isn't sure if she'd be friends with Olivia if they were to meet now, and I thought, "Why were you ever friends in the first place?" None of these women, in fact, seem to have much in common; three of them have high tax brackets in common, but really all they share is a vague dissatisfaction. Jane is depressed, and everyone thinks her metrosexual husband (Simon McBurney) is gay. Christine has bitter fights with her husband and screenwriting partner (Jason Isaacs). Franny seems to feel guilty about her inherited wealth. Olivia has her own problems making the rent and making late-night calls to a married guy she had a past affair with.

Holofcener's anecdotal narrative doesn't give us much purchase on any of the characters. Instinctively, most viewers will want to identify with Olivia, but she's a bit of a dope, letting a jerkwad physical trainer (the reason she wants to become one) sleep with her and dress her up in a French-maid costume and take half her housecleaning money. The other women are marked by varying degrees of obliviousness. Holofcener is a gently observational filmmaker; she's not into denunciation, so she doesn't demonize the rich ladies, not even in their rudest moments. But the movie seems to have no point of view; we don't know why Holofcener is telling this story about these people. The participation of Aniston probably made Friends with Money easier to finance and distribute than Holofcener's previous films, but it lacks those films' focus.

Scene for scene, the movie can be enjoyable and even insightful. A bummer from Holofcener is better than most directors at the top of their weak game. But we don't feel much connection between the women which might be Holofcener's point, who knows? and in a relationship movie like this one, that matters. And instead of dealing with the huge class gulf between Olivia and her friends with money, Holofcener takes the easy way out with an unlikely sugar daddy.

On some level, too, I couldn't get past Aniston's miscasting. Others have remarked that it's tough to accept Aniston as the financial weak link in this chain when in real life she could buy and sell Cusack, McDormand and Keener ten times over. But she also looks about ten years younger than the other women, and Olivia seems young enough to snap out of her current funk and find some purpose. We don't really know why she doesn't; we don't know why the movie doesn't, either.

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originally posted: 01/28/07 16:40:27
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2006 Florida Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival For more in the 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/23/10 the dork knight Mediations on postmodern ennui, with arguably sexist female stereotypes. 3 stars
3/30/09 amir so natural and beliveble without redundant 4 stars
1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
9/14/08 Emily Incredibly boring. Everyone knows people like these, and you try to avoid them at all costs 1 stars
3/30/08 Pamela White much ado about nothing with money 3 stars
3/03/08 ravenmad 2 many stories. Tthe gay couple story was the most interesting. 3 stars
1/21/08 mb There is nothing there. 2 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Surprising gem with a low-key undertone. Loved unexpectedness of the characters' actions! 4 stars
12/05/06 Jen Kept waiting for something to happen. Sudden ending--no resolution. Very unsatisfying. 1 stars
10/12/06 Dawn I kept waiting for the "plot" to unfold and it just never did. Would not recommend seeing 1 stars
9/29/06 Jeff Anderson Unfocused, unsatisfying & film's hopelessly dull. A real shame! 1 stars
9/28/06 Juules This is one of the most boring, unsatifing and dullest films ever! 1 stars
4/30/06 Maggie I just saw this movie and felt is was BORING, SLOW, DULL with no story. 1 stars
4/25/06 Kimberly Disappointing! Ended abruptly but thank god it did. 1 stars
4/23/06 Mase Hofofcener may be a new female woody allen, however aniston is wildly miscast. 4 stars
4/22/06 Howard A 1 and 1/2 hour movie that took 4 hours to watch. 2 stars
4/22/06 Debra L Fox Not to quibble, but Jennifer Aniston's movie "The Good Girl" is from 2002, not 1992! 4 stars
4/11/06 Virginia Helfman An excellent film -- really lovely. 5 stars
4/05/06 Katrina Ok wouldn't spend more then a rental fee on it though 2 stars
3/25/06 Sylvia Augustiniok It may work for a television audience. Trivial and disappointing. 2 stars
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  07-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 29-Aug-2006



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