Friends with Money

“This is a depressing movie!” writer-director Nicole Holofcener recently told Salon about Friends with Money, her quote-unquote comedy about a group of Los Angelinos who’ve been together since before any of them had a real job. Now they occupy various rungs on the ladder of success, and it’s put a strain on their interactions. How do you invite everybody to a $10,000-a-table charity dinner when one of you is a maid? Bittersweet without the sweet part, Friends with Money doesn’t answer that question so much as push it around with a fork like the last pea on a plate. But the bitterness is strangely refreshing, as is the movie’s cold stare at the ravages (that’s how they see them, anyway) of middle age. Life may begin at 40, but no one said it would be a happy, fulfilling life.
Let’s meet our contestants: Frances McDormand is a successful fashion designer who’s so mad at the world she’s stopped washing her hair; Catherine Keener is a successful screenwriter whose marriage to her screenwriting partner (Jason Isaacs) has devolved into dueling laptops; Joan Cusack is a successful stay-at-home mom who’s stupidly happy (or perhaps happily stupid); and Jennifer Aniston is a big, fat (O.K., make that small, thin) loser. She’s the maid, in case you’re wondering. And yes, while the other women’s domestic arrangements vary from extremely comfortable to mind-bogglingly comfortable, she actually has trouble making ends meet. Even worse, unlike the rest, she has neither a husband nor a boyfriend. That’s right, folks, Jennifer Aniston plays a woman who can’t land a decent date. And you know what? She basically pulls it off: She’s surprisingly convincing as a small, thin loser.
Holofcener basically pulls it off, too. I didn’t really buy these friends as friends, and I didn’t really buy their marriages as marriages, either. McDormand is hitched to a metrosexual (Simon McBurney) who keeps getting hit on by gay men, Keener to a guy who cruely comments on the amount of food she’s been eating lately (“I can see it in your ass”), and Cusack is paired with…well, Holofcener hasn’t really given Greg Germann much to play. (He’s stupidly happy.) As for everybody else, she’s given them exactly one thing to play: anger or joy or confusion. But her powers of observation can be acute. For example, the clump of somebody else’s hair that Aniston has to keep from going down the drain. And she dares to go where few directors have gone before: deep inside the ties that bind these women together, where their fears of aging are barely masked by the size of their bank accounts.

Posted In:     Arts

Previous Post

A selective guide to what’s coming up

Next Post

Soko’s evolution

Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to

Leave a Reply

Notify of