Makes the World Go 'Round

A Sundance film by way of its general plotlessness and obsessive urge to talk, but a chick flick in its undeniably female perspective, Friends with Money is full of a small, closely observed moments that never quite add up to much. The movie is the latest effort from writer-director Nicole Holofcener, but while it's several steps up from her crushingly aimless and frenetic debut, Walking and Talking, there's still a lack of focus and — well, let's just come out and say it — insight that ultimately makes the film a less than satisfying experience.

Friends with Money revolves around three affluent couples, with particular attention paid to their significantly less than wealthy friend Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) who works as a maid, smokes too much pot and can't manage to keep a boyfriend. The other, richer characters in the movie are involved in mostly unhappy relationships as well, and even the ones with less visible signs of relationship strain are going through nervous breakdowns of their own for other, essentially unexplained reasons.

There are some nice little moments here and there, and the film is worth checking out if only for the natural way its ensemble cast play off one another, but the cumulative effect is a lot like watching a handful of mildly interesting women unloading with 90 minutes of therapy. The characters whine, glower, gripe and occasionally even smile, but when it's all over, there's not much worth remembering. Stars Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Simon McBurney, Jason Isaacs and Greg Germann. Lance Goldenberg

Friends with Money (R) opens April 21 at local theaters. 3 stars

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