Enough Said, Review

In one of his final films, James Gandolfini conveys the warmth and comfortability of spending a Sunday afternoon with an old friend. If only there were more.

In Enough Said, from writer/director Nicole Holofcencer, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss’ Eva is a divorced and now single mother who works as a masseuse in colorful California for a diverse list of clients. While at a party, she becomes friends with Marianne (Catherine Keener), a divorcee poet who is also in need of Eva’s masseuse services. Thus it is fortuitous (or tragic) that at the same gathering, she also meets fellow divorcée Albert (James Gandolfini), who’s so charming it really should be enough said. While they don’t have immediate chemistry, she agrees to go out to dinner with him. From there, they begin dating, bonding especially about their impending status as empty nesters when their daughters move off to college at the end of the summer. As Eva becomes friends with Keener, she hears about the poet’s miserable relationship with her ex-husband. Simultaneously, she talks to Albert about his own bitter divorce, and realizes only too late that she is dating her new friend’s ex-husband. Intrigued by the information that she can learn about Albert without either of the formerly married party knowing the big picture, Eva doesn’t say anything to either of them. Instead, she lets the past of one relationship make her nervous about the future of her own. Enough Said warrants its admission price with its inspired chemistry, as Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfuss match nicely as opposites. While they have shared personal situations as lonely parents of grown and gone kids, they have two distinctly different ways of dealing with the past that has affected their present vulnerable romantic state. Eva is on the offense when it comes to protecting herself, and will go so far as to exclaim when she goes to a party that there are no attractive men present; she even embarrass Gandolfini for having a loud whisper in front of her friends. On the other hand, the inward Gandolfini is more matter-of-fact, but nonetheless shows his vulnerability as a graying teddy bear, the closer they get. The companionship makes for some very sweet passages, one could even say without overdoing the sugar that they’re even cute. Their constant discussions about the world are often very funny – they crack each other up, and us as well. With such a simple conflict creating growing tension between them, the entertainment of their courtship keeps us occupied before the scenario gets too tedious, even considering the close calls and the winks of the conflict. Playing a character that some would likely take as discouraging, Louis-Dreyfuss is charmingly endearing in her bubbly comedy. As someone who creates a dilemma for herself, Louis-Dreyfuss keeps this character grounded, both in terms of her nerves but also in terms for comic relief. She’s never trying to nervously win us over even when she is the one creating BS in an otherwise non-BS environment. Gandolfini’s turn in Enough Said comes after two supporting performances in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty and Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, both from 2012. Both of them required only a few minutes of Gandolfini’s screentime, but nonetheless left indelible impressions about the grandiose presence he can provide with only bits of dialogue. In the scheme of these two films, Enough Said is a celebratory next step for him. This isn’t his last film (he has Animal Control due out in 2014), but it is a fine chapter of a career finale that has come too soon. Enough Said has more ideas than it has use for its characters, with usually funny actors like Keener, Toni Collette, or Ben Falcone as a married couple struggling to find a strong purpose. If its themes could be characters, this script might be stronger. Instead there are capable supporting parts here that are better at filling time than they are at fulfilling subtext.  For a story that puts a specific focus on the often unexplored anxieties of both the dating divorcee and the empty nester, and is also hip to the jive of the new evolving definition of “family,” the attitude of the picture still has disappointing dabs of ageism. Younger characters are treated with a specifically different grasp than older characters, and are basically stereotyped as being rude and high-strung phone addicts. (Sure, teenagers can be terrible, but not as consistently as they are shown here). It seems unnecessary for Holofcencer to turn Enough Said into a self-conscious war of age, especially as it easily assumes its own hip-ness with a dilemma that can be understood at any dating age, even in the teen years. The movie is instead about adults trying to avoid the traveled dating BS most teenagers wouldn’t know how to manage – and that certainly does include the difference of confrontations carried out face-to-face, and the cowardly instances of phone-to-phone. But isn’t drawing a thick divisive line between the young and not-as-young a bit old fashioned?

The second date between Eva and Albert happens on a Sunday. When Eva meets Albert at his house on this particular day of the week, he is wearing pajamas whereas she is in more formal dating attire. “It’s Sunday,” he reasons with a strong matter-of-fact tone. “I like to be comfortable.”

 If I had to guess, I would say that most of the other scenes in Enough Said happen on a Sunday. The film has that type of comfortable, matter-of-fact breeze to it, with characters sitting outside and sipping drinks as they indirectly and metaphorically inflate the elephant of truth in the room.  But what keeps this light comedy with one conflict from fully losing itself to a breeze, and what subsequently makes it a special film, is chemistry that we’re all too sad to never get to witness again. Den of Geek Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars


3.5 out of 5