-Film Reviewed by Lisa Umhoefer–
Enough Said explores the life changes that parents face when sending their kids off to college. Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced mother. She must balance her job as a masseuse while trying to cope with her daughter’s departure from home. Unbalanced by the sudden change, she seeks a fresh start.
The film was one of James Gandolfini’s last projects before his death, adding a new dimension to the career of this beloved actor. Gandolfini stars as Albert. When Eva meets him at a party she attends with her friends, Sarah and Will (Toni Collette and Ben Falcone) she has already made the mistake of declaring loudly that there is no one at the party to whom she is attracted. Albert proclaims the same in a sweet effort to mitigate some of her embarrassment and the smiles they exchange establish their budding affection.
The first date is a success. Albert plays a believably, sweet, teddy bear of a man and Eva is clearly smitten. Complications arise, however, when it turns out that one of Eva’s massage clients, Marianne (Catherine Keener), is also Albert’s ex-wife. This awkward revelation comes after Eva has listened to a series of damning complaints from Marianne about her ex-husband that she agrees sound awful. Now Eva realizes she is dating the source of her client’s aches and pains.
Being Marianne’s friend, while dating the biggest source of her unhappiness, proves difficult. But Eva can’t help herself. She has given into the temptation to gossip about Albert, and soon Marianne’s opinions of her ex-husband are influencing her own first impressions. Eva begins to see only Albert’s flaws, adopting Marianne’s pet peeves and standards. This leads to an inevitable confrontation in the worst possible scenario, and we witness Eva walk away like a wounded puppy with her tail between her legs.
A superb script, Enough Said makes some powerful observations of human behavior and comments on the many ways that people can err in their relationships. One of the most uncomfortable scenes transpires at a dinner party put on by Will and Sarah for Eva and Albert. Eva bullies and berates Albert in front of her friends pointing out the different faults that she and Marianne have zeroed in on. Audiences sympathize with Albert. Viewers will also wonder how much of Eva’s complaints are really based on her own feelings, and what impressions and misimpressions are the fault of her association with Marianne.
The film portrays the uncompromising nature of people. When one of Marianne’s chief complaints about her ex-husband was that he did not have end tables for his bedroom, Eva finds herself making the same complaint. Stubborn, Albert still refuses to act. Ultimately, he and Eva reach a resolution only because Eva abandons her wishes on this issue, not because Albert makes an effort to change or accommodate her desires.
The message is clear: the only way to happiness is to lower expectations. Audiences recognize, however, that this is probably not a sustainable solution, and they will be critical of the action when it appears that Eva and Albert are merely making another cycle through the obstacle course of dating, divorce and recovery. Unfortunately, lopsided relationship compromises contradict the spirit of the film. As the actors try to convey happiness, there is underlying sadness and resignation that complicates their situation and moods.
Enough Said is the fifth film feature written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, who is also an accomplished TV director. Audiences will appreciate Holofcener’s finesse crafting scenes where characters painstakingly digest new events in their lives. One feels on the set or in the room with Albert and Eva, and the drama connecting them and dividing them as a workable couple feels real.
In a world of slam, bam action movies, it is a luxury to watch the non-rushed, nuanced performances that Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini deliver. Enough Said is a well-packaged work that is worth a view even if in the end happiness is just a matter of settling.
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