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Friends With Money (Nicole Holofcener)

Friends with Money

Friends With Money (Nicole holofcener)

The term “money doesn’t buy happiness” is the main fixture within this biting, bittersweet comedy by director, Nicole Holofcener, which takes place in the appropriate SUV/house-with-a-maid landscape of Los Angeles. From the opening scene, we soon find out that Jennifer Aniston’s character, Olivia, is the lone friend in the group that is not on the monetary side of the scale, as the others, Franny (Joan Cusack), Jane (Fances McDormand) and Christine (Catherine Keener), have the large houses, careers and families.

The onion continues to peel as the flaws of each character are exposed, causing the trickle of tears both in sorrow and in the small moments in life that are laughable. Franny seems to have millions but doesn’t know what to do with it, so decides to donate it to the private school where her children go. Okay, don’t worry about the homeless children in Bombay, or even in our own country. Christine is one half a screenwriting team with her husband, but their marriage is falling apart while the couple build up their already expansive home on the hill. Jane, who owns a successful clothing design company, is angry at the world because she’s hit an age where she feels life holds no further aspirations or surprises…and she may just be in denial that her husband is gay.

Meanwhile Olivia is cleaning houses, living in $50 to $75 increments and smoking pot when it suits her fancy. She was a teacher at a ritzy high school, but left after her students, bred with entitlement into their genes, throw quarters at her because she drives an economy car while they pull in with rides worth ten times as much, bought by their rich parents, of course.

Her friends with money take pity on her, and at one point in the movie, Franny and her husband Matt (Greg Germann, who also played the lawyer Richard Fish in Ally McBeal) wonder whether she would be friends with Olivia if they were to meet today, and the conclusion was “no.”

In an attempt to provide Olivia with a man in her life and to keep her from obsessing about a two-month affair with a married man, Franny fixes her up with Mike (Scott Caan), a personal trainer. That backfires after Mike’s narcissistic ways build to the point of asshole and Olivia sees that he’s on another date, right after bedding her. An “only in the movies” moment rears its head when she ends up with a crumpled, overweight, scruffy guy whose house she had been cleaning. But the moment is saved through their conversations, where their similarities are evident and the bond between them is clear, and by the poignant line in the movie, that he, like her, has “some issues, you know… problems.”

Don’t we all?

The writing is this movie is sharp and brings many occasions to snicker, even out loud. But the female characters, even with their “complete life” garner as much pity as the one without the money, stuff or husband. Maybe if they all took a trip to a third world country and experienced real issues they would be more grateful for what they have. And this goes for the real life characters that live in Los Angeles and other cities across our country.

Friends with Money is opens April 7 at the Mayan Theater.


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