Writer/director Nicole Holofcener pursues her penchant for interesting characters in her latest effort, Enough Said. Since it is the first film starring the late James Gandolfini after his untimely passing it has generated additional interest and it turns out the film deserves the attention.
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is “Eva” a massage therapist on L.A.’s Westside (can you say cliché?) who is divorced, painfully single and whose daughter “Ellen” (Fairaway) is going to be leaving for college in the fall. She meets Gandolfini’s “Albert” at a party that she was invited to by her closest friend “Sarah” (Collette) and her husband “Will” (Falcone). The two have a nice “meet-cute” and eventually Albert seeks a date with Eva.
However, at that same party, Eva also meets “Marianne” (Keener). Marianne is a fairly well-known poet and she doesn’t just take Eva’s card out of politeness. She has an issue that a masseuse can assist with and she hires Eva. Marianne wants more than just someone to remove the knots from her body, she seeks a friend to bare her soul to and Eva is willing. Unfortunately, after their first session together, and after an excellent first date with Albert, Eva makes the painful discovery that Marianne is Albert’s ex-wife. Unable to decide who to stop seeing, she continues dating Albert while spending time with Marianne outside the therapeutic arena.
The problem is that the more Eva finds herself liking and being attracted to Albert, the more she hears the harangues of Marianne about all of Albert’s flaws. Add to this the fact both are fearing the upcoming departures of their respective daughters to college and things are naturally going to have problems. Eva is keeping a big secret from both Albert and Marianne while trying to figure out how to resolve what seems to be a growing rift between herself and her daughter. It isn’t helping that Ellen’s BFF “Chloe” (Gavinson) is unhappy at home and spending more time at Eva’s house. With Eva, not Ellen.
The leads are wonderful and their awkward but growing relationship is a joy to behold. Their joint trepidation leads to a number of comic moments that are enhanced by artful dialogue from Holofcener. There are a very few moments where the pace slows just a bit too much but the film’s length is perfect. In fact, it will leave you wanting just a bit more.
I will refrain from my usual rant about how it seems that rom-coms in modern times seem to involve only those who live above the affluent line and instead focus on the good things here. It is so much fun to watch the man who is indelibly etched into our collective psyches as “Tony Soprano” playing a really nice guy who wouldn’t think of ‘whacking’ someone for any reason. The spontaneous applause that filled the auditorium at the sight of the film’s tribute to James Gandolfini in the closing credits was lovely to hear.