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Friends With Money - Review

Friends With Money

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JENNIFER Aniston finally lands a role worthy of her talents in the funny and absorbing ensemble comedy, Friends With Money.

As the insecure Olivia, Aniston plays the youngest of a group of female friends who are attempting to settle into middle age and cope with the pressures – both personal and financial – this brings.

Making up the rest of the group are Christine (Catherine Keener), a successful writer whose marriage to her co-writing husband (Jason Isaacs) is beginning to crumble, Jane (Frances McDormand), a successful designer who has come to realise the limitations in her life despite being married to a loving, albeit effeminate husband (Simon McBurney), and Frannie (Joan Cusack), who is undoubtedly the happiest and richest of all four.

During the course of writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s observant movie, the women attempt to resolve their issues and help each other through any crisis.

But it’s Aniston’s Olivia who remains the focal point, given her inability to find what she wants in life – either professionally or sexually. She works as a maid and drifts from one ill-suited lover to the next, oblivious of the despair this creates among her older friends.

It is a role that enables Aniston to display the sharp comic timing she used to such memorable effect in TV’s Friends, as well as the emotional range that also came with that character.

Friends With Money is frequently at its funniest when following Olivia’s attempts to better herself, as well as providing the film with its satisfying and poignant resolution of sorts.

But this isn’t just Aniston’s movie and the likes of McDormand and Keener (who has worked with Holofcener twice before) are also on good form – the latter impressively conveying the emotional torment of realising that her marriage is failing, while the former becomes prone to public outbursts that mask her mounting frustration.

If there is a criticism, it’s that from a male viewpoint, the men in the film get a pretty rough deal, emerging as either self-centred womanisers or gruff, uncaring husbands – the most sympathetic of the males is so effeminate that he is often hilariously mistaken for being gay.

That said, the likes of Isaacs, McBurney and Scott Caan (as one of Olivia’s short-lived affairs) acquit themselves well in what could have become thankless roles.

As both writer and director, Holofcener also deserves credit for keeping things brisk, maintaining a nice balance between the humour and sentiment and for avoiding the temptation of making the characters seem overly pretentious.

There are moments when they hint at upper to middle-class snobbishness, especially when passing judgement on Olivia’s antics, but for the most part they remain an endearing set of friends to be around.

The film also rings true in some of its observations on life, middle age and financial security, raising some valid points as well as something to think about.

Friends With Money is undoubtedly more likely to appeal to women rather than men but it’s an engaging experience that very much finds a talented writer-director and cast at the top of their game. Audiences should take the opportunity to cash in on what it has to offer.

Read our interview with Nicole Holofcener

Certificate: 15
Running time: 88mins