Friends with Money
You would have thought all those seasons on TV paid better.

Theatrical Release Date: 04/07/2006
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, Greg Germann, Jason Isaacs, Simon McBurney, Scott Caan, Bob Stephenson

Let’s just get this out of the way. I’m not all that much of a “Friends” person and generally, I don’t give much credit or pay much attention to Jennifer Aniston. She seems to play the same “Rachel” character over and over and over again.

That is, unless she has some good writing to work with and takes the pay cut to participate in an independent film.

I’m a big fan of “The Good Girl”; her turn in that film was a breakthrough for her as far as acting credibility goes. She got to play against type as an unhappily married woman who stumbles into an inappropriate relationship with a suicidal younger co-worker. Now that’s a person I can identify with!

And while it does actually pain me somewhat to say this, Aniston does a really great job of playing depressed and melancholy characters.

Case in point, her role in Writer/Director Nicole Holofcener’s “Friends with Money”. Here is another flawed, lonely and sad character that Aniston seems to inhabit so well, I almost forgot it was her.

Helping her in this endeavor is an ensemble cast that is near-perfectly cast: Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener and Frances McDormand play Aniston’s best friends; Greg Germann, Jason Isaacs and Simon McBurney play their respective husbands; Scott Caan and Bob Stephenson play two men Aniston attempts to date, being the only single woman in the group.

The basic story or plot isn’t all that important and you all know how much I tire of doing plot synopses. “Friends with Money” is a quick glance into the characters’ lives, all of whom are in different stages of their relationships and battling with different stressors in their environments.

Too often, this kind of a film gets bogged down with over-sentimentalized portrayals of loss or melodramatic twists of fate. “Friends” does a really great job of giving the audience enough of a glimpse to get us hooked but not enough to bore us with needless exposition or an ending that just won’t come.

Oh, and when I said “Friends”, I meant “Friends with Money”. Not that show that did the exact opposite of what I just wrote. Get it? Good.

I think Holofcener did a great job of sharing the spotlight between the four story threads and weaving them together just enough to make it feel realistic.

We all have close friends we practically consider family. We all lean on them for support now and then. But do all of us really understand and appreciate that the smiling, seemingly well-put together person we cry our eyes out to is probably going through just as bad of a time as us, only they’re not quite at the same stage of grief?

Wow, sorry about that. I think I just brought the room down a peg or two.

You know what a fish says when it swims into a wall?

Dam.

Better now?

I think you can see that by my wandering into the serious zone there for a second or two, this film isn’t all rainbows and sherbet. (Why am I craving something frozen and sweet all of a sudden?)

“Friends with Money” is a realistic look into the mess we all make of ourselves and the bonds that we form and hold to try to stay afloat in this sea of crap called life. The acting is excellent and the writing is tight and smart.

It should come as no great surprise to most of you that I love this kind of film and I’m happy Holofcener did such a good job of bringing me down. “Friends with Money” gets a 3 out of 5 from me.

If you’re happy in your relationship, do not go see this film. If you like happy, shiny films, do not go see this film. But if you’ve been looking for another way to wallow in your own mud, check out this film. It’s practically the cinematic equivalent of kicking you while you’re down.