Friday, June 02, 2006

Movie Review -- Friends With Money

Okay, let's just get this out there. I am a long-time member of Team Aniston. Consider the facts: (1) Jen's slimy ex, Brad Pitt, is the vice president of Creepy Men Whose Movies We Never Ever Want To See (second-in-command solely to Mr. Tom "Ick" Cruise); (2) Above-mentioned ex left dear Jen and flaunted his relationship with Angelina "One Week I'm Making Out With My Brother And Poking Myself With Knives While Dressed In S & M Gear And The Next I'm The Poster Child for U.N. Diplomacy" Jolie; (3) A.J. is, well, strange. (While we can never truly hate Angie (for she was, after all, Gia) we can still say, "WTF are you thinking slapping the sisterhood in the face like this with that weasel of a man? Why don't you just stick with making out with your brother which was more fun for us to watch?")

But I must confess that I bypassed Jen's recent Derailed and Rumor Has It after lukewarm reviews made me think they are, at best, There's-nothing-else-I-haven't-seen-at-Blockbuster rentals. But Friends With Money looked to be just what Jen needed to catapult her out of Rachel and into her next chapter.

In an outstanding ensemble cast (including Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, Joan Cusack, Greg Germann (from Ally McBeal!)) Jen plays Olivia, a woman who seems to have been left behind by her friends -- in terms of money, relationships, work, family. She is a single, pothead, ex-teacher working as a maid who is still hung up on her ex (who cheated on his wife to be with her) while her friends are all married, with children, and financially well off.

The film raises the question of whether or not friendships can survive such crossroads; would they even be friends with Olivia were they to meet her today? But I think the questions the film raises about happiness and intimacy (both in romantic relationships and in friendships) run far deeper. What strikes me as most important about the film is how real the relationships are; these aren't fluffy, never-talk-about-each-other-behind-each-other's-back relationships. The women (and men) gossip and are critical of each other (and their men) while simultaneously loving each other, just as in real life. For a rather short movie, all of the characters have well-developed conflicts and issues that they are dealing with as individuals, and it is through their interaction with each other that these issues come to the surface. The stand-out relationship was between McDormand (who, of course, steals every second she is on-screen) and her "Is he gay or not?" husband (played by Simon McBurney).

I could have seen the movie being longer, but primarily because I was so drawn to all of the characters. The movie ends a bit ambiguously, but I suppose that life never has neatly-resolved solutions to problems; like life itself, our issues go on and on.

A quiet film, but one worth watching. I give it FOUR STARS!!!!!


Blogger greeneyes said...

I'm also a member of Team Aniston, although I wish she'd do more films like this one and just stay off the magazine covers. She's so much more than the "I'm going to be fine" ex-wife everyone's making her out to be. I'll definitely see this--I've enjoyed Nicole Holofcener's other movies too.

BTW, how do I get into the BBC?

12:17 PM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

Oh, just buy the book and read it! (We haven't decided on the date yet, but we will soon -- I started it, and it's a fast read.)

I think Jen will get past this. I hope she starts to get more meaty roles. She's so darn popular, but I think really wants to be taken as a serious actress, and not just Mrs. Ex Brad Pitt or Rachel Green. She was very good in the role (her sadness was so subtle, but so deep) very much like she was good in The Good Girl.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Nikki said...

Your review makes me want to go out ad actually see this movie.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Parisjasmal said...

I am on none of their teams as I am bored to death and sick of all of them--BLECH.

I will, however see this movie solely becasue of your post. Seriously.

5:54 AM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

LOL. I'm getting sick of it all, too (but do still like Jen, of course).

Glad you'll still see the movie! It's great!

8:49 AM  

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