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Enough Said (2013) Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini.

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Enough Said


James Gandolfini and Julia Louis Dreyfus star in this lovely, low key comedy from writer-director Nicole Holofcener, about two middle-aged adults, Eva and Albert, who very quietly make an attempt at a new relationship after their respective divorces. The movie flows very naturally, driven mostly by the chemistry between the two stars, who come across as ordinary people looking for love, especially Gandolfini in his second to last film role- there's nothing of his Tony Soprano tough guy here, and we are reminded again what a great character actor he was and what a huge loss it is not to have him around anymore.

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What little plot there is in the film is driven by the relationships, as is Holofcener's specialty- in this there are key, yet casual scenes that give us a feel of living relationships between several characters. There is the budding romance between Eva and Albert, the mother-daughter relationship between Eva and her teenager, Ellen, and the friendships between Eva and her old friend Sarah (Toni Collette) and her new friend/client Marianne (Catherine Keener), who happens to be Albert's ex-wife. The delight in this movie comes from the genuine spark between these actors as they play fairly intimate, small-ish moments together- the stakes are never very high in this movie, as you can tell it mostly wants to be a meandering check-in with the every day lives of these people. But the byplay is emotionally honest without being cloying in the slightest, striking a tone that's difficult to get right in most family drama movies, which often get distracted by cliched characters and by the numbers plots.

The characters in this film are not cliche, but unfortunately the plot does get a little bit sidetracked. Eva meets Gandolfini at a party at the same time she meets his ex, Marianne, and when Marianne becomes her client (she's a masseuse) she carries on the connection after finding out the two were once married, hoping to get the dirt on Albert before getting in too deep. This "mistaken identity" situation leads to a predictable confrontation right down the line, with no variation whatsoever. It's disappointing because the rest of the film is so character driven as to feel natural, and that naturalism clashes with the sitcom scenario being forced into the screenplay. But the performances are more than worth it, and the little moments of humanity that encompass and define those varying relationships are all recognizable in ways that may hit a little too close to home. Albert and Eva's bonding over their daughter's going away to college feels achingly real, along with the loneliness and knee-jerk defensiveness Eva feels to protect herself against getting hurt for the second time.

Holofcener has a knack for relationship driven comedy and realism, along with a note-perfect depiction of a modern day Los Angeles that is identifiable (even though this crowd is undoubtedly upper-class, it surprisingly doesn't betray a condescending or elite sensibility- at least no more than you average Woody Allen flick). Even with a distracted and cliched plot, Enough Said is filled with warmth, honesty and feeling, so maybe for her next time out Holofcener should dump the plot entirely and just choose to spend more time with her characters- I certainly wanted to.


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