It’s a rare find when a romantic comedy appears with charm and wit for grown-ups. Writer-director Nicole Holofcener delivers a real gem with ‘Enough Said.’ Her screenplay addresses the difficulty parents face as empty nesters and letting go. It also smartly tackles two divorcees opening up enough to give love a chance the second time around. Holofcener has a keen ear for dialogue which allows the main characters to feel genuine. Another reason to see it is for one of the final screen appearances of the late James Gandolfini. Although mostly known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano in the hit TV drama, this film shows off the burly actor’s range with a truly heartwarming performance.
The story centers on Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a single mother who makes a living as a masseuse in Los Angeles. It’s funny watching her trudge a portable massage table, bigger than her, to clients. It captures her independence as an entrepreneur and that she enjoys her work. Her daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) is about to go off to college. Eva accepts an invitation from her therapist best friend Sarah (Toni Collette) and her husband Will (Ben Falcone) to tag along with them to an outdoor cocktail party. It’s there that she meets Albert (James Gandolfini). They have a few brief laughs together and exchange phone numbers. She’s not initially attracted to him but there is something about him that makes an impression on her.
The next day, Eva talks to her bestie Sarah over a Skype call. Besides meeting Albert at the party, she might have a new massage client with poet Marianne (Catherine Keener). It’s always enjoyable to see the talented and offbeat Keener in an indie film. Keener’s Marianne often speaks badly about her ex-husband and she drops a twist to the story that makes it complicated. Revealing the plot twist would spoil it for you. The chemistry between Dreyfus and Gandolfini is fun to watch. When they go on their first date, the awkward banter is real and biting. Although opposites in many ways, they get to know each other and find out they actually have a lot in common. For one, Gandolfini also has a daughter Tess (Eve Hawson) going off to college.
When was the last time you saw 50-somethings in a romantic drama? It’s nice to see Holofcener deal with an often neglected demographic in film. Eva and Albert are midlifers secure in their careers. They are waiting for their kids to move on with their lives but at the same time ready for the next phase of their lives too. It’s not easy. These two seasoned people are rigidly set in their ways. For instance, Albert has this quirky habit of picking out the onions with his chips in guacamole dip. He tells Eva that it drove his ex-wife crazy. And Eva is not without her idiosyncrasies either. She has a tendency to be brutally honest about Albert’s weight issues that teeters on offensive. There is also an interesting subplot with her daughter’s best friend Chloe (Tavi Gevinson). It perfectly shows Eva’s neediness as she struggles letting go of her daughter as she prepares for college.
“I’m tired of being funny,” says Eva. That comment says so much about her. Being a jokester allows her to skirt issues she is afraid of confronting in her life. Dreyfus’ performance is so layered and rich. There are moments in the film where we see her “Elaine Benes” persona but her portrayal goes way deeper. There is a point in the film where the jokes are stripped away and you see a woman desperately searching for a meaningful connection in her life. However, the most endearing moments are when Gandolfini wears his heart on his sleeve. As you watch him, it’s heartbreaking when you realize this is one of his final bows.
‘Enough Said’ is playing exclusively at The Flicks theater, downtown Boise and an art house cinema near you. Check out the official trailer http://youtu.be/nEEJaIjF_Lo.