The often-used antics that work to develop the plots of hundreds of films that focus on young love aren’t as fruitful when dealing with the complexities of middle age. Running away to kiss in the rain is not a realistic expectation for those with the baggage of a previous marriage and older children, their need for love is on a more intellectual and behavioral level. Wounds caused by betrayal and failures don’t vanish via a beautiful bouquet of flowers paired with a box of chocolates. But as hopeless as the previously mentioned truths are, the way Nicole Holofcener explores them in her latest work Enough Said is candid, blunt and, ironically, very hopeful.
The film marks the last screen performance by James Gandolfini, and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus in what may be the best role of her career so far. She plays Eva, a masseuse whose love life stagnated after her divorced. Her days are filled with different appointments with clients, caring for her teenage daughter, who will soon be going off to college, and knitting. One evening Eva’s best friend (played by Toni Collette), who ironically is a therapist with lots of issues of her own, invites her to a shindig of affluent adults in an effort to find her a match. There, equally mismatched Albert (Gandolfini) clicks with Eva’s offbeat and overly honest sense of humor. At first she is not attracted to him, but their relationship develops based on the mutual acceptance of each other’s failures, emotional triggers, and despicable personality traits.
Flawed as everyone in the real world is, every character here is granted a sense of vulnerability that leaves no safety net and exposes them to each other’s brutal honesty, many times ensuing in hilarious comedy or others in profound realizations of why someone loves or stops loving another person. Eva has no time to play games; she needs to be sure Albert is someone she can trust in the long run. One of her clients, Marianne ( the delightful Catherine Keener, whom she met at the same party), describes her failed marriage with peculiar details on the reasons why it all went downhill. It is in the superficial qualities of such reasons (playing around with the salsa bowl or not having a nightstand) that it becomes evident how strange it is to find the right person, not the perfect one but one whose eccentricities are tolerable and banal in comparison to the emotional connection.
Despite the natural chemistry between her and Albert, she has doubts now, she is suddenly concerned with the same things he mentions his ex-wife disliked. Added to their autumnal romance going sour, both of their daughters are leaving to become adults, taking with them a crucial coping mechanism for their parents’ loneliness. Director Holofcener has served the audience one of the most endearing, yet, uncompromising films about real love, not the kind that swears eternal faithfulness on the grounds of ravaging passion, but a love that fulfills the soul when the body becomes secondary.
There are top-notch performances all around, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus being the brilliant leader of the pack with flawless delivery in every scene. This work not only enhances the melancholic notion that Gandolfini will not appear on-screen again, but also leaves a sweet testimony of his talent. As if by destiny, it is met with an incredible writer/director and cast that undoubtedly created one of the best films of the year.
Final Verdict: For all the revelatory drama about lovebirds past their prime, Enough Said is a hilarious film, not one that loses its focus through contrived comedic relief but one that achieves tonal perfection. Nicole Holofcener is gentle in her delivery but audacious in her content; to have actors delivered the dialogue with that caliber of nuanced emotions is a miraculous achievement. Simply one of the most enjoyable and rewarding pieces of filmmaking you will see on screen this year.