Friends With Money

 
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Written by:Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Greg Germann, Simon McBurney, Jason Isaacs, Scott Caan
Released: August 31, 2006
Grade: A-

A few months ago, I went to a seminar where the guest speaker was Nigel Marsh.  In 2005, Marsh wrote a book called “Fat, Forty & Fired” and if you haven’t read it then I highly recommend it.  It is based on his actual life and he recounts the lessons he learned when at age 40, he was sacked from his high profile, yet stressful job.  He took a year of work and spent the time training to be a long distance swimmer, curbing his obsession with alcohol and most importantly, getting closer to his wife and four children.  I have been told that the book is being developed for film.  I wish I’d bought the rights first because it could be a great film!

Marsh’s speech was inspiring and there was something he said that I remember vividly.  He has met many rich, successful people through his job and through his public speaking tours.  What he has learned is that “rich people are no happier than you or me.”  We often think that money will make life easier but take it from a man who knows – it’s not true.

I took a similar feeling away from the aptly titled Friends With Money.  The film observes four women and the relationships they share both within their friendship group and with their loved ones.  Franny (Cusack) is incredibly wealthy, doesn’t work and lives a simple life with her husband (Germann).  Jane (McDormand) is a frazzled fashion designer who is continually critical of others and struggles to find any joy in life.  Christine (Keener) is a writer who thinks her husband (Isaacs) doesn’t show enough interest in her.  Olivia (Aniston) is the only one without money and is depressed by the thought that she doesn’t have boyfriend or a job that offers any fulfilment.

The conversations in the film are exquisite to listen to.  These four women talk about everything from manners and etiquette to love and sex.  When the film ended, I sat in my seat wishing I could I watched more.  I was interested in these characters and would have loved to have seen what ultimately became of them.  It’s not often I see a film these days where I wish it could have gone longer (especially with my short attention span).

If you’re looked for the best female actors working in Hollywood, you’d be hard pressed to find a better quartet than Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack and Jennifer Aniston.  Friends With Money is a low budget production and so you have to assume that all four actors took substantial pay cuts for the chance to work together.  They shine thanks to the work of 46-year-old writer-director, Nicole Holofcener (Lovely & Amazing).  It’s tough enough writing good, realistic dialogue for one character let alone four but Holofcener has pulled it off.

This isn’t a film with universal appeal and the notion of four well-to-do women evaluating their lives won’t be a turn on for all.  Others might wonder how these four women became friends in the first place.  It struck a cord with me however and I think many people, wealthy or not, will feel the same way.