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Friends With Money

Genre: Comedy
Rated: R
Directed by
: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Scott Caan, Simon McBurney, Bob Stephenson
Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

In Short: An ensemble cast of fine actors makes this tale of four female friends in mid-life crisis mode an entertaining experience.

Haves and Have Nots
Jennifer Aniston's New "Friends"
By Jenny Peters

Jennifer Aniston has a whole new set of "Friends" in her latest film, and she sure isn't doing a version of Rachel in this one. Instead, she plays Olivia, a depressed schoolteacher-turned-housemaid whose life is completely adrift. To make matters worse, her three best friends—Jane (Frances McDormand), Franny (Joan Cusack), and Christine (Catherine Keener)—seem to have it all. They have money, as in the film's title, as well as husbands and children, all things that Olivia does not, yet wants desperately.

But that's what is on the surface; the reality is that only Franny is truly happy in her life. The others are in the thralls of their own mid-life crises, just like Olivia, although hers is distinctly more pathetic. As a woman who is obsessed with a married ex-boyfriend, Aniston hits just the right notes of pathos and neediness to be completely believable.

As usual, however, it is Frances McDormand who steals the movie. The Oscar-winning actress ("Fargo") is pitch perfect as a successful dress designer whose 43rd birthday has put her into a downward spiral of depression and anger that even her loving husband can't shake her out of. Scott Caan is particularly good as well, as a personal trainer who is the worst boyfriend that Olivia could possibly choose. And the rest of the talented actors, including Jason Isaacs and Simon McBurney, are all well cast and completely believable in their roles.

If "Friends with Money" sounds like a complete downer, it really isn't. There are plenty of funny moments in writer-director Nicole Holofcener's well-crafted film, as well as some that will make any fortysomething viewer cringe just a little with personal understanding. And for anyone living in a suburban neighborhood where McMansions are going up and blocking out the sun, there's also a story line that will make you shiver.


(Published: 04/06/06)


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