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Friends With Money

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Because this movie was written and directed by a woman, Nicole Holofcener, I had hopes that it would portray women and gender in a positive way, but I was disappointed. Obviously people disagree with me because this film wom the Dorothy Arzner Directors Award at the Women In Film Crystal Awards. This movie contains so many stereotypes about gender and gender roles that I have to wonder if it was on purpose. This film centers around four women, three of which are married and one is single. The three marriages vary; although none seem extremely happy. Catherine Keener's character Christine is extremely unhappy and ends up wanting a divorce by the end of the movie. Franny's (played by Joan Cusack) marriage seems slightly more functional, but they do argue about money because Joan Cusack is worth much more than her husband (although she still must check with him before loaning money to friends). Frances McDormand's character, Jane seems to have to most understanding and sympathetic husband, but there is speculation throughout the movie that he is gay, and a strong relationship between him and a man that resembles dating develops. The one single woman, Olivia, (played by Jennifer Aniston) is a stereoptypically "single" woman. She is depressed, poor and completely obsessed with her ex-boyfriend. She calls him repeatedly throughout the film, despite the fact that he is married. She also has the worst job of the four women (as a maid, a stereotypically female job) and the least money. She begins dating a man in the film, who is by far the biggest jerk of all the men in the film. He sits on the couch while Olivia cleans and then asks for money at the end of each job because he "helped". At the end of the film she begins dating a new man; he is nicer but unattractive and overweight. This opens up an entirely new can of worms; why is it plausible in films and television for a beautiful woman to date a heavy, unattractive man, but an unattractive woman is never shown with a handsome man? I would be interested to know what other people thought of this film and the stereotypes it portrayed.
For more information about this film, checkout the website:
Friends With Money

Comments

I think one of the hazards of feminist film criticism is its failure to accept works of art as they are rather than as they "should" be. Art has no responsibility to uphold any ideal, including feminism.

In this case, I guess I don't see how a feminist could object. These four women owned their identities and pursued their own desires. There's no sign that they are kept from doing so.

As for stereotyping, I'm not sure I go along with your definition of it. I'm not sure how singlehood can be a stereotype. I thought she was a complicated character. It was pretty brave of the filmmakers to test our sympathies for her. The boyfriend was a classic jerk, yet she sticks around for the attention. People do that sometimes. :)

I'm not sure it's anti-feminist for a woman to discuss money - especially a lot of money - with her husband. If they are partners, it's his business too. Remember also how ambivalent she feels about lending this money. Her instincts turn out to be correct.