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  Publicity Stills of "Friends With Money"
(Courtesy from Columbia TriStar)

Genre: Drama/Romance
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, K.C. Clyde, Bobby Coleman, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, Jason Isaacs, Scott Caan, Greg Germann, Simon McBurney
RunTime: 1 hr 28 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: M18 (Scene of Intimacy)

Opening Day: 14 September 2006


Four women who have been friends all their lives begin settling into their early middle age with much disparity and confusion especially for Olivia. Showcasing the unexpected challenges of adulthood, this show is brutally honest and ultimately uplifting.

Movie Review:

Friends with Money takes us on a journey exploring relationships amongst best friends - the ones who'll offer you sound advice, or run to when you're faced with troubles, and its evolvement over time. It also explores the dark emotions that reside in each one of us, despite supposedly normal behaviour exhibited on the outside.

In a gist, the story's about the friendship amongst three couples and their single friend, as well as the romantic relationships between the couples. Like many dominant female character movies, this one has its share of strong female actresses achoring the film, in Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener and Frances McDormand. However, Desperate Housewives they are not, with everyone, except Aniston's Olivia, in a financially free situation, hence the title of her friends with money.

The movie raises familiar people issues , about mid-life crises, the search for the calling in life, the need to connect with people and the quest in looking for that special someone. Writer-Director Nicole Holofcener weaves many recognizable instances throughout the movie from the start, and never lets up. I especially liked almost every conversation around the dinner (used loosely here) table, where varying degree of pretenses during the meal get stripped down in the comfort of someone you trust whole-heartedly.

The movie however, played out rather flatly, without much drama nor much fuss. However, it is in this narrative lack of highs and lows that rings through, and somehow entrenches it with a layer of reality - you don't expect everything in life to be working your way, and not everyday is a Sunday - that sometimes nothing much happens and it's pretty mundane. The story's very much dialogue driven, and in my humble opinion, has lines which aren't contrived, words that you and I are capable of saying during various emotional experiences.

However, the ensemble cast more than make up for its seeming lack of focus. Each lead actress just defines their roles brilliantly, though some had clearly more screen time than others. While Jennifer Aniston's teacher-turned-maid Olivia was nothing to brag about (she whines a lot), Frances McDormand's high-strung Jane almost stole the show from all of them.

The male characters in the husbands were a little more one-dimensional, save for Aaron (Simon McBurney), a man whose subtle effiminate demeanour usually gets him mistaken to be gay, and a small subplot involving a namesake. The movie doesn't set itself as a male-basher, though it does suggests how at times, insensitivity can break down relationships with some unkind remarks, and contrasts this against how kind words can be used to build strength. We also look at how first impressions matter, of how being much of a slob doesn't get you much (positive) attention, and again ringing home the reminder that what's beautiful on the inside counts as much, if not more.

There's a balance of comedic moments and heartfelt sad ones, some scenes that will rile you and leave you exasperated, and others that will make you all warm and fuzzy. And you wonder, isn't all that experience part and parcel of what life's all about?

Movie Rating:

(Guaranteed enjoyable, this movie is an impressive animated houseful of intelligent fun for everyone)

Review by Stefan Shih

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