Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of those rare actresses who I find instantly appealing every time she appears on a screen. She has been such a constant presence in our lives for the past 30+ years through her television work, that it’s difficult to fathom that she hasn’t had a single film role(outside of cartoon voice-over work)in sixteen years! Well, it’s as if she’s never missed a beat—Ms. Louis-Dreyfus is delightful and charming in “Enough Said”. The late James Gandolfini, of course, will also be remembered primarily for his incredible small screen iconography as mob boss Tony Soprano. But his feature film work was much more frequent than hers, and it’s a melancholy realization that his Albert in Nicole Holofcener’s latest is his penultimate performance(he will appear in the 2014 release “Animal Rescue”, which has an alternate title of “The Drop”). Julia and Jimmy work well together, there is a definite chemistry between the two, and “Enough Said” is a frothy, enjoyable motion picture. However, ultimately it’s impossible for me to recognize it as one of 2013’s finest films, because the central conceit is so convoluted that it nearly derails the whole thing upon revelation. Outside of that though, I liked this feature quite a bit.
Eva(Ms. Julia)is a divorced mother of a teenage girl, and works as a masseuse in Los Angeles. Upon attending a ritzy party with a married couple she’s close friends with(Ben Falcone as Will and Toni Collette as Sarah, turning in some terrific support work), Eva separately meets a poet named Marianne(an appealing Catherine Keener, in one of those “only in the movies” types of roles)and a middle-aged, overweight divorcee named Albert(Mr. Gandolfini in a quiet, yet magnetic turn). Albert contacts Eva soon after the festivity, and even though she’s made clear to friends that she’s not sure she can find the plus size Albert attractive—they begin to date. And after a tentative start, things go amazingly well, and an unlikely love affair manages to rapidly bloom. They consummate their relationship, complain about their exes, and meet each other’s ready-for-college daughters. Meanwhile, Eva has also built a friendship with the other person that she chatted with at that cocktail gathering—the divorced writer, Marianne. Eva first visits Marianne professionally toting her massage table, but the women quickly hit it off during conversation. Before long, the two are enjoying casual get-togethers and meeting for lunch. But then a wild coincidence threatens to ruin both new relationships in her satisfyingly rebuilt life.
I fear that my brief plot synopsis could be read as a spoiler. This was not my intention, and I apologize if I managed to make something obvious. Then again, I honestly believe that it might be less detrimental to the overall film, if you realize its “twist” going in. Otherwise it takes some time to recover from the sudden disclosure. Director & screenwriter Nicole Holofcener is a gifted East Coast artist, who’s churned out some renowned NYC-based film work, but has set a couple of features on the Pacific side of the country too. I haven’t witnessed her entire canon, but I was very fond of both 2002’s “Lovely & Amazing” and 2010’s “Please Give”. Yes, Nicole tends to work in a rarefied white-bread domain that many “outsiders” could find impossible to relate to. But Woody Allen made a career out of that, and many of you may not be surprised to learn that Holofcener apprenticed on some of his earlier releases—Allen’s influence is obvious. Hey, it was a real disappointment for me when “Enough Said” takes that haphazard detour that brought it dangerously close to sit-com land, because our two principals were such an utter joy throughout. I liked the movie a lot, but I couldn’t quite manage to love it. Grade: B
next review up: “The Act of Killing”