Nicole Holofcener is an indie filmmaker who writes and directs her own films outside of the obviously broken Hollywood system. As a result, her films reflect her own life and friends and focus on things that might be deemed too boring but Friends With Money isn’t boring. In fact, it’s an interesting exploration of the relationship between women, women and their husbands, and women with the workplace and consumerism. The film is, at times, scathing and a bit raw but worth the watch.
Jennifer Aniston plays Olivia, a woman who’s quit her job as a teacher, habitually smokes weed, and now cleans houses for a living. She has no respect for personal boundaries, she uses a client’s vibrator while on the clock, and is driftless in a money-driven world. Franny (Joan Cusack) is the only sane one in the group. She’s happily married and rich. Jane (Francis McDormand) and Aaron are also happily married but Jane struggles with the banality and pointlessness of life to the extent that she’s stopped washing her hair and has a breakdown in an Old Navy store. Then, there’s David (Jason Isaacs) and Christine (Catherine Keener) who are screenwriters and not happy in their marriage.
Holofcener twines their four different women together by centering the film around an upcoming ALS benefit where Franny will be donating money, but truthfully, there is no plot in this film. There are only character arcs and each arc is completed at varying degrees by the end of the film which is truly the beauty of Holofcener’s script. It feels final, the ending is complete enough to satisfy the viewer, but there is no finality that is guaranteed. Olivia and her new (rich) beau might make it work, they might not. Jane might have another breakdown and have to deal with the fact that everyone thinks her husband is gay. Christine and David have broken up and now Christine is without a writing partner and is now a single mom.
And that is the beauty of Holofcener. As a writer, I am always interested in character and being a character-driven movie, I found it to be fascinating, tightly written and without the constraints most plot-driven films have. Character is important and Holofcener understands that and caters to that. Of course, with such a tightly written character drama, the performances were spot on. Even Ty Burrell, an actor I admit to not liking, was interesting and his role is tiny compared to the women.
If character dramas are your thing, I definitely recommend Friends With Money.
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