By Will Ashton | email@example.com| @thewillofash
Enough Said| Directed by Nicole Holofcener| Rated PG-13
I doubt that there were many fans of cinema and television that felt unaffected by the untimely death of James Gandolfini earlier this year.
While many knew him best for his portrayal as Tony Sopranos in The Sopranos, Gandolfini demonstrated, especially in the past couple years, that he was an actor capable of great versatility and nuance. He was able to play the tough, macho guy, sure, but he was also capable of being soft and tender.
This later side is quite evident his one of his final performances in Enough Said.
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a divorced, middle-aged masseuse, goes to a party with a group of friends and meets Albert (Gandolfini), another middle-aged divorcee. Despite some initial reservations, the two begin to hit it off. As they begin to spend more time together, a relationship begins to bloom between the two of them. Meanwhile, at this same party, Eva meets poet Marianne (Catherine Kenner), who instantly becomes one of her clients. After a series of massages, Marianne opens up about her ex-husband. After a couple of conversations, Eva begins to learn that the man she is dating is also her client’s ex-husband.
In her fifth feature, writer/director Nicole Holofcener doesn’t quite gather the sophistication she gathered in her past films like Lovely & Amazing and Please Give. The biggest problem comes from the fact that the movie is never truly able to escape the sitcom-esque nature of its plot. Most of the time, the film often feels like a 30-minute plot stretched out into an hour-and-a-half. It doesn’t help that Holofcener’s routine camera angles and oversaturated lighting add to the TV feel of the film.
What is able to save this film from going completely into sitcom territory, however, is the maturity and realism Holofcener brings in her script as well as the performances she gathers from her cast. In today’s day-and-age where films often focus on those between the ages of 14-35, it is nice to see a movie that actually focuses on middle-aged people living, acting and talking the way middle-aged people do. The realism brought from the film’s dialogue elevates the film into saying something about what middle-aged dating can be.
But what truly makes the film work is the performances, particularly from the late Gandolfini. While he has shown the softer side of his personality through his roles in Welcome to the Riley and Where the Wild Things Are, in light of his death, this particular performance is able to showcase the tender and loving side of his personality in full force. He is the heart of this film, and he wears it on his sleeve fully and freely.
In addition to Gandolfini, Dreyfus, in her first live-action theatrical performance since 1997’s Deconstructing Harry, is able to demonstrate her witty comedic timing, as well as her dramatic chops in the film’s final act. Her long experience with sitcoms perhaps doesn’t help elevate the running feel of watching an overlong pilot onscreen, but she helps keep things light and engaging.
With Hollywood’s long-running tradition of creating uninspired, over-the-top mainstream romantic comedies, it is nice to see a film provided a more nuanced, balanced look at the world of relationships. Particularly from a viewpoint not often explored on film. There are many things found this in film that couples could discuss about once the credits roll and they head back home. I believe the most distingushing thing to note is what this film says about our conceded opinions as to what makes a relationship. Albert is certainly flawed physically; he’s overweight, hold unusual habits and has little problems along the way, such as his inability to whisper. But, inside, he’s sweet, caring and big-hearted. Eva, meanwhile, while certainly good physically, does care a bit of baggage. She’s sometimes needy, cares some conceded views and will often focus more on herself than on those around her. In turn, that’s what makes them stronger as a couple, but it is also what keeps them from fully committing to one another.
Ultimately, Enough Said is not going to be the greatest, smartest, funniest or most original film you’ll see this year, but it is still, nevertheless, an enjoyable way to spend some time watching. If one were to pop this into the DVD player on one rainy day, I’m sure it would entertain them for the time being. It may not stick with them, but its quiet, tender storytelling will charm them throughout.