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Friends With Money

Genre: , ,

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Greg Germann

Director: Nicole Holofcener

Rated: R

Release Date: August 29th, 2006
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Overall Grade: B-

Friends With Money

Review By: Staff

Friends With Money

It's really quite impressive how Jennifer Aniston has distanced herself from the immensely successful television show that launched her career. More than any of her co-stars, Aniston has managed to achieve both critical and financial success with her post-Friends career choices. It's a true testament to her talent that even in a film entitled Friends with Money that unavoidably invokes her sitcom persona, she turns in a performance that isn't shrouded in the leftover success of her show.

In Nicole Holofcener's 2006 indie, Aniston plays Olivia, an unimpressive maid who spends her free time smoking marijuana and collecting free samples of facial cream from various boutiques. Out of her group of friends, Olivia is the sole single gal and the least successful professionally. Of her friends, Franny (Joan Cusack) is the wealthiest and perhaps the most happily married. The other two, Jane (Frances McDormand) and Christine (Catherine Keener), spend more time analyzing the seeming success of Franny's relationship than caring for their own respective marriages.

Jane's husband Aaron (Simon McBurney) is a wonderfully patient husband who adores her even when her temper flares out of control in public. But Christine is convinced there's trouble lurking in paradise, as she repeatedly accuses Aaron of being gay behind his back. Christine's relationship with her husband David (Jason Isaacs) is the film's most tumultuous. Every conversation they have is fertile grounds for a fight, which affects both their personal and business relationships since they work together as a screenwriting duo.

Profession is the centripetal point of these characters origins' even if the characters aren't aware of it themselves. Jane is a successful fashion designer and the excessive price of her clothing line gives her a false sense of worth, creating a monstrous ego of self-importance. Olivia appears content with low-wage jobs and ultimately finds comfort in the imagined hedonism of unemployment. As the screenwriter, and therefore labeled the most creative of the bunch, Christine serves as Holofcener's surrogate and her plot resolution affirms her worth as an artist, and maybe a mother. As the source of monetary proliferation, Franny appears the most anonymous. I was never able to catch what it is she does professionally or how she received her enormous wealth. What is reiterated about her character is that she and her husband never fight and have a lively physical relationship. This is likely an artistic decision, but at a scant 88-minutes, her character feels abridged rather than abstruse.

The abundance of characters and the short running time are at odds with one another. In some respects, it works. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to spend any more time with characters like David or Jane and for that, I was thankful there on-screen appearances were lean. But more often than not, it leaves questions unanswered and renders the film rather slight. That being said, the character arcs "” though

they be minimal "” are present and surprisingly effective. When we arrive at the film's concluding dinner scene, the characters have changed since the first, but not in the way we might have expected, even though their arc has been right in front of our eyes the whole time.

Special Features:

Behind the Scenes of Friends with Money predominantly features excerpts from the film with occasional glimpses of behind the scenes footage and interviews. Nothing of real worth here.

Los Angeles Premiere features excerpts from the film's premier at the Grauman Theater. The feature begins with snippets of press interviews outside the theater tuned to the film's original score by Craig Richey and culminates with Holofcener introducing the film to the audience. Not particularly enlightening but expresses how much the film means to the people involved.

Friends with Money holds the distinction of being the opening film at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and Sundance featurette chronicles the event in a similar fashion to the Los Angeles Premiere but delves a little bit deeper. The two featurettes are entertaining for the way they capture moments in time during an independent film's promotional history.

Commentary with writer/director Nicole Holofcener & producer Anthony Bregman is lively and buoyant. The two discuss the origin of the production, which is rather interesting. Their most interesting tidbit is that portions of the film were shot in New York and doubled for Los Angeles because of Frances McDormand's schedule restraints. Holofcener and Bregman are pleasant and very fond of the filmmaking process making the track a breeze to listen to. Their lighthearted rapport is akin to the film's unconventional humor.

Show Grade: B-
DVD Grade: B-
Overall Grade: B-

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