Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Michaela Watkins, Phillip Brock
PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity
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The rules of attraction are examined, twisted and ultimately mutated from genre conformity in Nicole Holofcener’s fifth feature film. Enough Said has many interesting things to say about love, life and acceptance in an age where selfishness is more responsible for relationship failure than is appearance.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as a self-important massage therapist struggling with discourteous clients and a flagging love life in the wake of divorce and single parenthood. Eva meets a shabby, but humorous and compassionate man (James Gandolfini) and begins falling in love while unknowingly and simultaneously befriending his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) who proceeds to bash and belittle her ex for his perceived shortcomings.
When she discovers the relationship between the two, her desire for friendship slowly seeps into her subconscious and those nitpicks begin inserting themselves into her view, covering up all that she had thought was so wonderful at the start.
For decades, Hollywood has given audiences masculine fantasies where pretty women fall in love with unattractive men. These personal wish fulfillments have damaged the genuine truth behind them that unattractive people, both men and women, can find love with those who are aesthetically pleasing. Louis-Dreyfus plays up her neurotic flaws. She embodies characters she’s won Emmys for playing, satisfying the needs of hiring her to work on such a project.
These intricacies are built narratively into the character making her feel more authentic than she did in shows like Seinfeld or The New Adventures of Old Christine. Part of that is a result of talent. Louis-Dreyfus is a gifted comedienne, but she also understands the complexities of drama, giving Eva a genuine dollop of insecurity and neuroticism while making her a genuinely vulnerable person.
Gandolfini’s career was cut short just prior to the film’s release and a shame that was. My familiarity with the actor is limited as I was never a fan of The Sopranos (not that I got to watch the show that often being on a cable channel I didn’t have access to) and his other efforts seemed more work-for-hire than works calling for an exercising of talent. Here, Gandolfini does a tremendous job explaining why someone who looks like he does could be so appealing to women. In spite of his heavyset frame, peculiar expectations and idosyncratic actions, Gandolfini gives Albert depth, passion, humor and generosity; a powerful combination of attributes that easily bypasses the human desire for physical beauty.
Holofcener is an acquired taste. Some detest her work while others celebrate it. If Enough Said were her first film, I might suggest it as a terrific start to a promising career. The film is assured and confident, like any picture from an experienced filmmaker. Holofcener deftly explores the poisonous relationships we develop that threaten the very relationships that should be bringing us so much joy. Part of that destruction is self-imposed, the mind trying to convince itself that life cannot be that generous and there has to be something about others that makes them undesirable other than their appearance.
She asks us to question how much of our perception of another’s shortcomings are infused in our psyches by others and how much is our own personal insecurity attempting to botch our attempts at happiness. Enough Said is an engaging, almost effortless, examination of love both real and fractured. It’s worth watching if only to see Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini doing some of their best work even if one cannot relate to the story itself.
April 16, 2014