Four women friends: three are wealthy and married plus there's Olivia, a former teacher who's now a maid. The marriages are in various states of health: Franny and Matt are happy and very rich. Christine and David write screenplays together, are remodeling their house, and argue. Jane is angry all the time and Aaron, who's an attentive husband, strikes everyone as gay. Franny sets up Olivia with a friend of hers, Mike, a personal trainer, and Olivia takes him with her to a couple of housecleaning jobs. A benefit dinner for ALS, an awkward guy named Marty whose place Olivia cleans, and a French maid's outfit figure in the story. Is there more to life than its problems? Written by
Outside the restaurant where Mike and Olivia have their date, if you look closely you can see a black fuzzy mass on the patio of the House of Pies restaurant across the street. According to Nicole Holofcener on the DVD commentary, those were all members of the paparazzi. See more »
When Jane and Aaron are in the restaurant and Jane is asking for the check from the waiter who appears to like Aaron, Aaron's arms jump around between shots. See more »
So the corrugated metal not only reflects the beauty of the common, off-the-shelf material but also emphasizes the invisible line between the old and the new construction.
Wait. There'll be a line?
Just let him finish.
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"Friends With Money" seems like an incomplete film. It's as if writer-director Nicole Holofcener either got tired of her characters and simply ran out of ideas. I don't mind films where nothing much happens or there is no narrative conclusion. But there seems something awfully unfinished and undeveloped about this movie.
On the other hand, what makes it watchable are the performances.
Jennifer Aniston does her best work since "The Good Girl" (2002). She still has the best chance of the "Friends" cast to have a sterling film career, if she continues doing work like this - at least playing characters like Olivia. She should stay away from playing femmes fatale
her performance in last year's dismal "Derailed" was ample proof
she's not ready to venture into Stanwyck or Fiorentino territory, yet.
But Aniston has a fine sense of finding that line between comedy and drama without pushing either one too far. Her Olivia is a believable person who just has incredibly lousy taste in men - thus far. Watching the hurt and disappointment on Aniston's face when Mike's (Scott Caan) true character comes out shows this woman's got talent.
Mike actually might be this film's most intriguing and interesting character. Caan's very good in the role and just when you think you like him, he does something despicable.
Holofcener's film centers around a group of friends, most of whom are affluent, if not stinking rich. The exception is Olivia. And throughout the film, Holofcener unveils their pains, insecurities and flaws.
Joan Cusack plays the guilt-ridden wealthy woman well and Catherine Keener, again, proves why she remains so incredibly under-rated. Here's an actress who can take small moments in a film and turn them into unforgettable ones. Keener's so completely compelling and honest in her performance. Christine's discussions with her husband, David (Jason Isaacs), never ring false thanks to two strong performances.
The weak link in the film really is Frances McDormand's Jane. This isn't the wonderful McDormand's fault. Trouble is, Holofcener paints McDormand's Jane as such a one-dimensional person - a woman who turns her suppressed rage into a rather annoying persona. Holofcener never bothers to penetrate the surface of Jane's problems. We just know she's angry and that's all we see of her. It's a shame because a woman of McDormand's infinite acting talents deserved a much richer character.
"Friends With Money" seems rather superficial at times because, unlike Holofcener's previous two films, this one simply skirts the surface of the characters. With the exception of Olivia and, to a lesser extent, Christine, we never see other sides to these people.
There's more to their stories. Much more. But Holofcener shows no interest in going there.
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