Sometimes people accuse me of not having fun at movies. This is not true. I have a lot of fun at movies, else I wouldn't see so damn many of them. What is probably true is that I have a funny sense of fun - sophomoric comedies and explosions leave me stone cold, whereas a quiet little chamber drama leaves me enthralled. Case in point: Friends with Money, the opening film at Sundance 2006.

Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) is a housecleaner, whose best friends on Earth are Jane (Frances McDormand), Christine (Catherine Keener) and Franny (Joan Cusack). They are married; she is not. They are wealthy; she is not. For just under 90 minutes, we see the four of them navigate the difficulties inherent in friendships thus unbalanced.

It doesn't seem like there's much to the film, which barely has a plot (the closest thing is the story of Christine's troubled marriage with her screenwriter husband (Jason Isaacs), and how remodeling their house pushes "troubled" to "bad"). Mostly, it's just about combining the women and their husbands in various permutations to showcase writer/director Nicole Holofcener's musings about parenthood, love, friendship and status.

The appeal of the film lies squarely in the performances, which are natural and warm and interesting. Keener has worked with Holofcener before, and she clearly has the best handle on the mechanics of the dialogue; but it's McDormand who gets the showiest role as a woman who goes from frustration to depression to antagonism against all mankind, and she turns in her best performance in years. Aniston and Cusack, while not in the same league, are probably at their career best; Aniston especially is a revelation in this role, never forcing a character whose arc is largely wanting to just kind of exist to have any flashy "actorly" moments. The husbands are comparatively underwritten and underperformed, although Simon McBurney gets some really great moments (ah, British stage eloquent and so charming) as Jane's ambiguously metrosexual/gay spouse.

There's nothing more than competent about the film beyond the actors, but there doesn't really need to be - the whole exercise is about letting four actresses, three of whom are past the deadly-in-Hollywood 40 year-old mark, have a good, relaxing time just sort of inhabiting characters. They inhabit. It's a very nice movie. Except for the one bad marriage, nobody really gets angry or upset, and there's even a fairy tale ending (which, honestly, doesn't work - I'm fine with a happy ending, but there were happy endings to this film that didn't involve contrivance, or a renunciation of the film's willingness to side with the unwealthy). None of the musings will be revelations to anyone whose seen more than a few of the Woody Allen-inspired chamber dramedies of the American indie movement, but that's just not the point. It's a diverting way to spend some time.

See? Told you I can have fun.