Nicole Holofcener’s latest feature, “Enough Said” (PG-13), starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini, is a touching romantic comedy that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments but it is the film’s poignancy that sneaks up and engages the audience. Supported by a talented and equally hilarious ensemble cast, Louis-Dreyfus stars as Eva, a single divorced masseuse preparing to send her daughter off to college. Gandolfini meanwhile, in one of the final performances before his tragic death, is perfectly cast as Albert, likewise divorced and with a daughter of his own, similarly college-bound in the fall.
The pair first meets at a party where they openly admit to not being attracted to each other. But after a successful first date that ends in a handshake and a derrière complement, the two hit it off. Viewers can’t help but root for the couple as they fall for each other because the characters are so honestly written. Both Louis-Dreyfus and especially Gandolfini are particularly likable here, despite a plot twist is fairly obvious and hinted at early in the movie when Eva jokingly asks Albert for his ex-wife’s phone number. Eva’s new client turned friend Marianne (Catherine Keener) can’t stop talking about her ex-husband and failed marriage. And soon Eva finds herself in an unusual situation with the ability to foresee the challenges she may face in a future with Albert, and with insight, albeit heavily biased, into his flaws and idiosyncrasies.
This is very much a story about loneliness and allowing yourself a second chance at love when the first has failed. On the surface, it may seem as if the dilemma is squarely about accepting Albert’s faults and being able to overcome his ex-wife’s partiality. But the underlying questions that persist about self-awareness are far more interesting. Holofcener successfully delivers an endearing dialogue of life and love after divorce and all the while does what she does best: create convincing female characters that are both admirable and relatable. Louis-Dreyfus shines in this outstanding role as an unadorned normal woman. Sure, she is a little neurotic and a little irritable but what woman isn’t from time to time? Even more importantly she is vulnerable and entirely lovable.
The other female roles are notable as well: Toni Collette as the friend in a successful marriage laden with humorous shortcomings of her own. Big screen newcomer and fashion world vet Tavi Gevinson also delivers as Chloe, a vulnerable teenager that leans on Eva as the mother she’s always wanted.
And with all that said, Albert is not to be outdone. Gandolfini successfully steps outside of the role that has largely defined his career. Albert, the teddy bear is such a far cry from Tony Soprano that you can’t help but appreciate Gandolfini’s range as an actor. It is bittersweet to witness his amazing career, and to know that there are only so many characters left to be revealed by the late and great James Gandolfini. (His final film, “Animal Rescue” is a crime story due for release in 2014.) Its top billed cast is reason enough to head to the theater. It might be a romantic comedy but take it from us you’ll enjoy it more than you think.
“Enough Said” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini is rated PG-13, has a runtime of 91 minutes, and is released on Friday, September 20th.
- Nora Chew