Variety the Children's Charity screened the cute and Woody Allenesque upcoming indie film by Nicole Holofcener with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini and Toni Collette, "Enough Said". Everybody is about 52 so if you are a child of the 60s and 70s, this quiet and quirky romantic comedy is for you, like a pair of bell bottoms and a sweatshirt and free-flowing hair. The film moves at a relaxed, engaging pace. Rather than ruminate about getting old, they act like teenagers. Note Louis-Dreyfus is the daughter of a billionaire in real life so this is pretty good acting even if it's mostly loveable grimacing and facial dorkiness we are all familiar with. Oh, you're not?
Related: Geoff Hoyle's "Geezer" returns to the Marsh in the Mission, a one-clown show
Variety started near the turn of the century in New York when somebody abandoned a baby on the theater steps with a note that read, "I know theater people are kind and you will take care of my baby". So the theater folks took up a collection and took care of the baby. Today the Variety Childrens' Charity raises money to help disabled, critically ill and disadvantaged children in northern California, including building bicycles. Nancy Foley introduced the film after guests settled in with popcorn.
“Enough Said” is a cute and quirky love story about, oddly enough, what’s not said between tender middle-aged sweethearts venturing into a relationship as their respective only children, each of their daughters, are about to leave for college and the house will be empty. Directed by Nicole Holofcener, born in 1960 so she’s 53. Holofcener often seems to hire Catherine Keener, 53, and did so again in “Enough Said” while she casts Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 52, as Eva, as a sort of female middle-aged Woody Allenesque single Mom who falls in love with big bear Albert, James Gandolfini, who was 52 when he died in June.
I want to be comfortable
Although I myself am divorced and single and I just turned 54 on October 5, I have no children but I do live alone. This film feels natural, like an old pair of jeans and a favorite t-shirt and sweatshirt. As Gandolfini says when Louis-Dreyfus shows up at his front door with champagne for brunch and he answers in his t-shirt and serves a plate of bagels, “It’s Sunday, I want to be comfortable” and he happily makes Mimosas with his orange juice for them. As somebody somewhere said once, single Moms have already been to the circus.
The girl nextdoor
It reminds me of one of the first dates I had as I was newly divorced back in the early 2000s in San Francisco. I met what I thought was a nice tall businessman in the Financial District but when I met him for a date for a walk around a reservoir, he wore black jeans with no underwear (ask me how I know). He actually sat in his car with me in the Safeway parking lot and expected me to eat a roasted chicken out of the plastic container. With no utensils. In the car. Next to him with no underwear.
My point is, middle-aged divorced dating can be worse than your marriage. I don’t know what was more mortifying, his change in style or the drive-in movie snack without the movie or the theater. Enough said. However this movie is sweet and gives hope that love lives right around the corner from your suburban tract home.
I’m tired of being funny
I myself am tired of humoring a date and keeping a smile on my face just out of loneliness, embarassment or because I'm trying to be polite because I'm at his bachelor pad. Somehow instead that man I ran into at BART in San Francisco, who went to my high school back in the 70s, shared his pain with me and me with him, just in passing connected. It was communication at a more real level. Perhaps he wants to talk, suggested a therapist in Berkeley. Julia's character says after having good sex with her new sweetheart,
I'm tired of being funny.
The situation is that a single Mom Eva, played by 52 year old Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is about to send her daughter off to college meets an unpretentious divorced Dad at an end-of-summer pool party. He too is about to lose the love of his life as his daughter goes off to school as well. Unbeknownst to anybody (SPOILER ALERT) the new female client Eva picks up at the same party and befriends is not only a lonely single Mom too, but also who turns out to be the bitter ex wife Marianne. She’s seen the other side of the flawed and loveable sweetheart Eva will start a tender romance with. Eva gets bookended by them unwittingly and innocently, or rather between the first blushes of new love and the cold, bitter whining on the other side.
One thing we may not actually feel as the audience is that he was a big bear at 6’1” and his size actually is a point of contention for the ex-wife and also for him, so that he’s self conscious about it with Eva, who after listening to the ex wife Marianne harping about weight and eating habits actually seems to have unwittingly absorbed some of the ex wife’s attitude. Even though Julia’s character the masseuse actually exclaims about her new client, “She has no cellulite anywhere”, for a poet and all her earthy, sexy beauty and good taste in interior decor, she seems caustic, whining, self-absorbed and appears to be an art snob who undermines albeit unintentionally, her new friend’s humble chance at happiness. It’s sad because egoless Eva’s the type that goes around making everybody else feel good and relaxed.
Dreyfuss was also born in 1961 which makes her 52 and she’s only 5’3”. She was born in Manhattan and played a role similar to that in “Enough Said” in a her own television series that she and her husband created. He’s Brad Hall from “Saturday Night Live”, born in Santa Barbara. They created not only two sons of their own but also “The New Adventures of Old Christine”. Similarly in “Enough Said”, she’s a single Mom and her ex and she remain close. She socializes with the ex and the new pretty and younger blond wife. Awkward situations R Us.
Yet while she may feel like nobody, her misfit middle-aged divorced act becomes heartbreakingly, achingly tender and real. She gives a choking-back-the-tears moment you feel in your chest when Eva forces out the words that she let the situation with her self in the middle go on out of fear, because she has been married before and has seen the way it can go.
Gandolfini’s Albert knows how to break the tension though with one liners told straight faced.
Sometimes getting caught in the middle was funny, as when the ex constantly harps on the obesity and eating habits of her ex, then the ex says he would eat just to make her mad. He’s got a boyish sense of mischief, warmth and decency.
The acting is quiet and personal focusing a lot more on words and facial expressions than on romantic comedy and sight gags as when Julia barely avoids the moment of reckoning. Julia or Eva does a lot of grimacing in embarrassment and awkwardness. She’s a lot more frumpy suburban loser Mom than her feisty Jewish girl in New York on Seinfeld. This Mom never got the professional woman make-over out of college and schleps around in baggy Mom jeans that drag on the ground over her heels.
It’s all so real, right down to the modest working and middle class tract homes just like the one I grew up in, in the Manor neighborhood of San Leandro, a 1950s development on San Francisco Bay. The characters have modest cars, modest jobs, except for the ex wife who says she is a poet but she has no friends other than Joni Mitchell, who read her work. Eva is honest with Marianne about probably not being able to understand poetry. "I'm a poet" says Marianne. "I'm a dreamer" says Eva to return the humor. Foot in mouth not tongue in cheek.
Notably Eva is a masseuse who has to face her clients bad breath, incessant whining or just plain insensitivity as she carries her massage table up his 100 steps without him ever offering help, although he’s young and strong, just clueless.
Albert has a cool job he loves, living out his childhood in front of television as he works in a television history library full of old tapes the public can come and watch. I was raised like a veal, he says. "Kept alone in a room, fed and told to hold still".
The film will be in general release this month.
The charity runs and rents out it's own screening room in the Hobart Building with it's old fashioned glamor including a chandelier and marble lobby. The private screening room is a comfortable little place with old fashioned film projectors in back and chairs for the director and staff in the back row. Film goers got popcorn and wine at the bar. The group hosts an Oscar viewing party. Nancy Foley the director of the charity presented guest Jane Merschen with a raffle prize, after Jane had just said she never wins anything.
For more information: http://www.varietync.org
For more stories by this writer check out CBS San Francisco's website under Eye on the Bay, San Francisco arts & culture "Best Of"; and San Francisco Arts & Culture on Examiner.com. Subscribe by hitting the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this article.
https://www.facebook.com/CindyWarnerJournalist (America's Cup SF photos and links)
It's a Bird . . . It's a Plane . . . It's Superman! 1960s Broadway revival is super
America's Cup winner takes all
CBS San Francisco: Best murals in the East Bay
CBS SF website: Weirdest museums in the East Bay
CBS SF website: Best permanent exhibits in the North Bay
CBS SF website: Best outdoor theaters around the Bay Area