REVIEW: “Enough Said”

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“Enough Said” is an interesting romantic comedy/drama from writer and director Nicole Holofcener. It’s one of those films that has magically latched onto critics who were giving it rave reviews. It has one of the highest aggregate scores on Rotten Tomatoes and it has found its way on numerous Top 10 lists from well respected critics. But what is it about this movie that has earned such high praise? Here are a few things that come to mind: charm, wit, an intelligent script, and two very strong lead performances.

The true magic of “Enough Said” starts with two fine leads. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Eva, a divorced single mother and self-employed masseuse. Her life is in a repetitive rut at least until she meets Albert played by James Galdolfini in the first of his final two roles before his death. He two is divorced with a young daughter. The two decide to go on a date which launches a very unlikely relationship. In some ways the two couldn’t be more different. She is a fit and attractive middle-aged woman while he is an overweight middle-aged regular Joe. The film points out these physical differences on numerous occasions and I feel it’s for a specific reason. At first Eva may be desperate to fill a void in her life but soon she sees beyond physical appearances to what really anchors a relationship.

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“Enough Said” develops one of the purest depictions of an adult relationship you’ll see on screen. For years Hollywood has been fixated on divorcees when it comes to depicting relationships. That has fascinated and at times frustrated me. But here it is very pertinent to the story and more importantly to the characters themselves. Dreyfus and Gandolfini are fantastic and have a remarkable chemistry. You do root for them to make it and overcome their faults and past mistakes. Dreyfus has always had this infectious wit that I’ve been attracted to, and Gandolfini shows a brilliant range that many of us didn’t realize he had.

Holofcener’s script is smart and authentic but I have a few quibbles with it. There are a handful of subplots that are vaguely introduced but never really explored. A couple of them do reflect on our two main characters but others feel tacked on and unnecessary. There is also a twist with a character named Marianne (played by Catherine Keener). She and Eva become friends and they have some good moments together, but I couldn’t really buy into the overall idea behind the twist. I can see where it would work in a film a little more focused on straight comedy. But here it felt like a stretch.

Still, “Enough Said” is an intelligent and refreshing alternative to the bulk of what passes for romantic comedies these days. It’s mature in the sense of its middle-aged focus and it’s grounded in its portrayal of fallible and believable characters. But the biggest treat is watching Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini effortlessly embody these two characters. Both are fantastic and they are the real heart of the film. And for me, it’s their performances that are the biggest draw.

VERDICT – 4 STARS