Enough Said (film review)
Enough Said (2013) 20th Century Fox
1 hr. 33 mins.
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Katherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Eve Hewson, Tracey Fairaway, Tavi Gevinson
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama/Romantic Comedy
Critic’s rating: ***1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
Writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s brilliant middle-aged romantic comedy Enough Said is thoroughly engaging and masterfully crafted with touching sentiments of gentle humor, convincing sweetness and credible flourishes of dramatic heft. Holofcener’s low-key and perceptive narrative honestly captures the heartfelt trials and tribulations of finding true love and companionship between two fifty-something divorced individuals as they enter the empty nest syndrome.
Holofcener’s (2010’s exceptional “Please Give”) disciplined direction and smart, witty script fuels Enough Said with its infectious charm and observational presence. It is a solid and resilient adult drama about flawed, older individuals on the rebound as they try to adjust their social lives in the aftermath of divorce and child-rearing. Well-acted and intelligently conceived, Enough Said is profoundly fortified with rich, quirky and compelling performances from Emmy-winning television titans Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini. In fact, Holofcener may have given Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini one of their best big screen roles in their movie careers as they dutifully display the warm, awkward and off-kilter chemistry that steers this movie’s beautiful and bouncy spirit.
Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced single mother working as a masseuse in sunny California as we see her making the rounds serving a few of her wacky clientele. Eva decides to attend a party with her married friends Sarah and Will (Toni Collette and Ben Falcone). She is introduced to a couple of people at the affair in highly-regarded poet Marianne (Catherine Keener) and then later on to teddy bearish-built Albert (Gandolfini). The formal party atmosphere would soon prove to be quite productive for Eva as she gains a new friend/client in the garrulous Marianne and agrees to a first-time date with the affable Albert.
At first Eva is not quite sure about her physical attraction to the beer-bellied, mountainous Albert. Nevertheless, Albert ends up winning her over and they both enjoy aimless banter over dinner at a loud youth-oriented restaurant. Soon, they buy ice cream and converse about their previous failed marriages and their college-bound teenaged daughters (coincidentally both are scheduled to head off to school at the same time). Eva becomes even more comfortable with Albert as their flirtatious gestures and comical off-hand quips lead to some heavy duty intimacy. Whatever romantic doubts that Eva held for Albert are now dismissed as she has found her new ideal guy. Albert even feels secure enough to introduce Eva to his strikingly pretty yet arrogant daughter as all three decide to have some lunch together.
In the meanwhile, Eva continues to build her relationship with the chatty Marianne both socially and professionally. Marianne’s excessive negative discussions about her ex-husband at first serves as bonding fodder for the two women to cope with their past forgettable marital experiences. However, Eva suddenly realizes that Marianne’s “insufferable fat slob” former spouse in question is indeed Albert—the fun-loving and down-to-earth guy that she has been currently dating and falling heads-over-heels in love for weeks now.
What should Eva do now? She is drawn to this fruitful sisterhood with Marianne yet dating her ex-hubby Albert whose verbal barbs she has listened to for hours on end day after day. Should Eva expose the fact that she is an instrumental cog in the wheels between two former married partners that have a venomous existence? Eva elects to keep her affiliation with both Albert and Marianne a secret. Furthermore, she also decides to compare mental notes on what both Marianne and Albert harshly say about one another. This gives Eva the inside advantage to determine if what was being said is actually indicative of whom Albert and Marianne are as questionable personalities.
Unfortunately some of Marianne’s accusatory poisonous potshots against Albert make Eva examine and second guess his personal quirks in eating, personal hygiene and love-making efforts…things that never seemed to bother her before. Eva making suggestions for Albert’s upkeep, strange whispering techniques and his overall way of living in front of her pals Sarah and Will at the dinner table causes Albert to wonder why Eva is so concerned with his personal mannerisms. This discussion, led by the tipsy Eva, causes some slight dissension among the dining foursome.
According to Albert, Eva’s sudden hinting for his personal improvement threatens to strike some ill-advised memories of his ex-wife Marianne. Understandably, Eva’s justified deception in harboring heated heresay from the contemptuous Marianne to measure her continued connection with Albert will have dire consequences in the long run. Just how helpful is it for Eva to get the biased scoop about Albert’s failings from a scornful Marianne?
For all its chore-like trappings with the cheeky and insightful dialogue, the situational and emotional entanglements, the apprehension and eventual acceptance of post-divorce romanticism, parental satisfaction and strife and relations breakdown and disappointment, Enough Said is absolutely winning in its depiction of fallible folks simply existing and coping with life’s subtle struggles in the uncertainty of aged love and longing to be loved.
Holofcener has concocted a refreshing and refined comical vehicle laced with poignancy and truthfulness. The heartily grounded and tender performances from heralded television icons Louis-Dreyfus and the now departed Gandolfini are gloriously realized and substantially affecting. Enough Said is perhaps one of the most well-balanced dramedies of the year that embraces the indelible spirit and soul of middle-aged malaise and affection—something so drastically missing in contemporary movies today.
NOTE: Focus of New York film critic Frank Ochieng is a member of: