e n o u g h s a i d
18th October 2013
Jim & Julia
13th October 2013
I’ll admit this straight from the off, the main reason for selecting this from the LFF program was of course that it was one of James Gandolfini’s last films. An actor who sadly left us without ever really getting the cinema role he deserved, though of course he did get the TV role of a lifetime in a series that redefined TV forever. We naturally jumped at the chance to see him in a leading role.
Well, shame on me for thinking that was all this film was about. Enough Said tells the story of two middle aged divorcees who meet at a party. Despite their reservations about getting back into the dating game, they decide to see each other again and gradually start to fall in love. Things are complicated by Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) accidentally making friends at the same party with Albert‘s (James Gandolfini) ex-wife. When she finally puts together the connection, Eva is too far in to both relationships to come clean with either party. A situation that of course can’t last. Meanwhile, Eva’s daughter is about to go off to college and Eva seems intent to adopt her daughter’s best friend, much to the chagrin of the girl’s mother.
If any of that seems familiar, you’re probably correct, there isn’t a lot new there and in less deft hands, it could all have come off as a comedy that would probably feature Steve Martin these days. Fortunately Nicole Holofcener is better than that, substantially better than that. For one, this is a film made by a woman and told from the woman’s point of view, making it immediately stand out. Holofcener and Lewis-Dreyfus have the sort of off-screen chemistry that you just cannot write and that comes through in the direction and the writing. The script is sharp and constantly funny without ever becoming sentimental. It would have been very easy to slip into standard rom-com territory given the plot but that just doesn’t happen, we are swept up with Eva and Albert and their charming, self effacing relationship is a joy to watch.
Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus are great together as the typically middle-aged slobbish Albert and pending empy-nester, Eva. As Eva discovers more about Albert from his ex, their relationship suffers accordingly and the desperation is clear to see. Catherine Keener is great as a character that so easily could have come off as straight up annoying. Her Marianne (Albert’s ex) is at once mother to a pretentious (but not overly so) daughter, a professional poet and generally easy going nice woman. Her attacks on Albert are heartfelt and realistic. It’s easy to buy in to why their relationship didn’t work without thinking much less of either character. I came away siding with Albert but I think you could just as easily be driven nuts by his obsession with separating the onions out of the guacamole.
Louis-Dreyfus is a wonderfully gifted comic actress and situations that would find other actors mugging for the camera come across as genuine and sweet natured. Albert was made for Gandolfini, it may be the closest he’s come to playing himself. He treads just close enough to slobbishness to justify Eva’s hesitation in the relationship but never overplays it. As charming and attentive as he comes across, just like Eva, you will wonder how long that side of him would last in a relationship.
And that’s the key, the humour and pain are in the details. There is no grandstanding, no huge gestures of LOVE, you feel like these could be real people and you never once consider that one of them might be rushing to the airport to stop the other leaving. Eva’s marriage breakdown is less well illuminated and we get very little from Albert’s point of view on his ex-wife’s failings but the film is none the worse for this. Ben Flacone and Toni Collette provide a constantly entertaining background of a couple with younger children, bickering and attempting to make their life meaningful without ever becoming irritating. Their on-going maid issues are hilarious.
Enough Said is a funny, perceptive, sharp and ultimately heartwarming story of second, and maybe third chances. It’s not a Hollywood perception of relationships, it feels welcomingly real and it’s great to see Louis-Dreyfus on the big screen, there should be way more roles for a woman of her talents. And if you don’t shed a tear when Eva’s daughter heads off to college, well, you probably won’t for the ‘For Jim’ credit either. In which case you are dead inside.
Check out the trailer here.