Another comedy that’s not really a comedy – that’s been my reaction to
many contemporary films that seem to centre on the sad-clown school of funny, balanced heavily on the side of making me sad, and not in the fun way. So I wasn’t hopeful about Enough Said, a romantic comedy released in 2013 and available on DVD at the Whitehorse Public Library. My reservations were unrewarded– Enough Said is a warm film that’s authentic and funny.
When Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) meets Albert (James Gandolfini), she’s mostly preoccupied with the prospect of her daughter leaving home to go to college. But she makes an unexpected connection with Albert, also divorced, with a daughter the same age and also about to leave home, to his dismay. They tentatively begin a relationship, hardly believing they could still be lucky in love. In fact, Eva doesn’t believe it and when she realizes the ex-husband of her new friend Marianne (Catherine Keener) is Albert, she can’t stop herself from probing further into that ill-fated marriage.
The fastidious poet Marianne couldn’t be more different than shambolic Albert and as her petty complaints about the husband she left accumulate, they reveal more about her than him. But Eva’s anxiety-clouded judgement keeps her hanging on Marianne’s every word.
“She’s like a human Trip Advisor,” she says to her friend Sarah (Toni Collette).
Director Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money), who also wrote the screenplay, draws in Eva’s other relationships, such as with Sarah and her husband Will, who like to have her around, according to Eva, “so they don’t have to be alone together,” and with her daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) who’s started to distance herself in anticipation of moving away. Eva fills the gap with a friend of her daughter, Chloe, (Tavi Gevinson), creating another eccentric triangle.
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and James Gandolfini are both award-winning actors for groundbreaking and larger-than-life television roles – Seinfeld and Veep for Louis-Dreyfuss, and Gandolfini received multiple accolades for playing Tony Soprano in The Sopranos. In Enough Said, they excel at playing life-size, relatable characters. In a rare dramatic role, Louis-Dreyfus is engaging as the hapless Eva, with an empathetic portrayal that makes it possible to cringe along with Eva in her most embarrassing moments, while still hoping she’ll prevail.
Albert was one of Gandolfini’s last roles – he died suddenly in 2013. With his portrayal of Albert, he succeeded in departing completely from the intimidating figure of Tony Soprano to make a gentle, overweight, middle-aged man an appealing love interest.
Eve Hewson plays Albert’s daughter Tess, who leaves a better last impression than first, when she shows that she has Albert’s genes as well as the self-absorbed Marianne’s.
Holofcener makes low-budget films – she jokes about not being able to afford high-end locations for characters with money in Friends with Money – but she makes good use of her resources. The southern California setting is visually pleasing and it’s interesting to see how the houses reflect the characters’ personalities and circumstances.
Enough Said is available on DVD at the Whitehorse Public Library.