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Featured Review: Friends with Money

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FRIENDS WITH MONEYMost films, good and bad, feature characters who exist only in the 90 or 120 minutes that we're watching them on screen. But movies that exist outside the margins successfully convey that what we're watching is merely a brief snippet of the characters' entire lives. Friends With Money, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, is the latter type of movie. Watching gloomy and insecure Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) make ends meet by working as a maid, it’s easy to picture her back in middle school, perhaps going through an “ugly duckling” phase that might have scarred her for life. Or after witnessing Christine (Catherine Keener) bicker endlessly with her husband David (Jason Isaacs), we understand it wasn’t always like this and find ourselves hoping for a glimpse of happier times. Set in LA, this seriocomic saga centers on the daily activities of four close friends. These four women retain a mutually close relationship, which in turn allows them to bounce ideas and actions off each other.  Three of them are the friends with money of the title, though two help prove any number of cash-strapped adages: money isn't everything; money can't buy happiness; money can't buy you love -- take your pick. The friend without money is Olivia, who, it appears, has always been poor and who once gave up a job as a school teacher because all her affluent students kept throwing quarters at her. Now she works as a maid, freelancing for various clients and spending the remainder of her time involved in a masochistic relationship with a shallow and casually cruel fitness instructor (Scott Caan). Friends With Money is effective in the way it makes us relate to all these characters and their struggles as they grapple with universal issues involving camaraderie, self-worth and the inability to come to terms with one’s own mortality.




 

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