Real Women Have Nerves

For a film that fervently frustrates, “Friends with Money” would be a fine find. It’s so frustrating that I fancy flooding this film review with f words. Oh, alright – I *ucking won’t! I *ucking won’t!

The film follows four female friends: Frannie (Joan Cusack) is a filthy rich wife; Jane (Frances McDormand) is a frazzled fashion designer; emotionally fragile Christine (Catherine Keener) writes screenplays with her husband; and Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) is the foolish failure of the four. She’s single, a pothead, and a maid. She’s lucky to have such foxy Anistonian looks, or else she’s a total loser.

The film is fortunate to have its four female leads be acted by four skilled actresses. These performers not only come through with their individual storylines, they click so well in their scenes together. My favorite has to be Frances McDormand; she has a couple of great scenes where she’s brimming with bitterness. It’s a role that could’ve been irritating but McDormand conjures empathy so deftly that her bitterness becomes infectious.

Does “Friends With Money” count as a chick flick? I don’t know. The main characters are certainly all chicks, but it ain’t chick flick by convention. There’s no weepfest to attest. There’s no dance of romance. If it courts anything at all, it courts discomfort. This is a movie that knows how to genuinely push the buttons of its characters and consequently, of its audience. Writer and director Nicole Holofcener is an observer of human behavior. She’s been taking notes on what make folks tick. I was surprised to find many relatable issues here that are barely addressed in other movies. And these issues aren’t necessarily only applicable to women. There are concerns and debates about rich lifestyle (extravagant charity events) and common courtesy (people who cut in line). I think open-minded men will find the film insightful and more welcoming for it doesn’t try to glorify these women or bash men altogether. “Friends With Money” is both an engaging and enraging picture. It is right on the money.

Grade: A-

CAST
Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Greg Germann, Simon McBurney, Jason Isaacs, and Scott Caan
Screenplay by
Nicole Holofcener
Directed by
Nicole Holofcener
Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief drug use
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