Who knew the pairing of Tony Soprano and Elaine Benes would result in something this rewarding? Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said is a romantic comedy which employs relatively few of the clichés we’ve come to expect in the genre. There is one giant exception and it hinges on a fairly amazing coincidence between the picture’s central characters. At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter much because this is a thoughtful, honest, often emotional, and incredibly well-acted movie.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is really only known for her TV work – “Seinfeld”, “The New Adventures of Old Christine”, and “Veep”. James Gandolfini played one of the most iconic television roles in history, but has had an impressive filmography as well. Putting these two together in a rom com doesn’t sound like an automatic recipe for success. It is.
Enough Said focuses on Eva (Louis-Dreyfus), a middle-aged divorcee and mother of one whose daughter is getting ready to go to college. Albert (Gandolfini) is a middle-aged divorcee and father of one who daughter is getting ready to go to college. The two meet at a party and begin dating. Eva is a masseuse who meets a new client (Catherine Keener) at the same party. It turns out later that she is Albert’s ex-wife and this complicates Eva’s view of her budding relationship.
The film is refreshing in its realistic dialogue. Its funny moments aren’t forced and feel natural. I particularly liked how many of the characters first question to Eva about being a masseuse is whether clients often become aroused. I have a feeling masseuses probably get that question all the time. There are some nicely developed supporting characters including Eva’s not so happily married friends played by Toni Collette and Ben Falcone. In a lesser movie, Eva and Albert’s exes might be portrayed as “bad guys”, but not here. Director and writer Holofcener seems to respect her audience and she gives us characters that are flawed, but also just good people trying to make things work out.
The screenplay is a huge plus and the last few minutes of Enough Said pack more emotional punch that I could’ve anticipated. Yet it’s Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini that make this film special. Louis-Dreyfus has proven a master of sitcom acting which requires different beats and style than movies. She is terrific here as well and I would love to see her continue to seek out roles on the big screen.
Sadly, we all know that Gandolfini died last year shortly before this picture’s release. Those of us who came to know him and love him and sometimes loathe him as Tony Soprano knew his intensity and brilliance at playing that character. His portrayal of Tony is legendary. However, he was so much more than that and capable of playing much different roles and that is evidenced here. We don’t see Tony Soprano in the character of Albert. We see Gandolfini brilliantly stepping into the part of a regular guy who gets a second shot at love. These two TV titans have been blessed with great writing on the small screen back in the day. They get another chance here in this.
And it gives an audience one more chance to remember the talents of a man who left too soon. Enough said.
***1/2 (out of four)