Enough Said has been getting more than its fair share of buzz, largely thanks to the presence of James Gandolfini, who passed away after shooting was completed. The former Sopranos star is quite good, but the truth is he’s a supporting player. The real star of Enough Said is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who famously played Elaine on Seinfeld and has since starred in two acclaimed TV series (The New Adventures of Old Christine, Veep), nabbing four Emmys in the process. Though she’s done some film work (that’s her as the Griswolds’ yuppie neighbor in 1989’s Christmas Vacation), Louis-Dreyfus has long been pigeonholed as a “TV actress.” Here she proves otherwise.
Louis-Dreyfus stars as Eva, a middle-aged divorcee who works as a massage therapist and spends much of her free time camped out on the couch with teenage daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway). One night at a party Eva meets Albert (James Gandolfini), and though they have plenty in common (age, divorce, daughters about to depart for college), both profess to being attracted to exactly no one in attendance. Eva is probably telling the truth; Albert clearly is not.
Albert gets Eva’s phone number and makes the call. Despite the fact that he’s a bit overweight (somewhat poignant, seeing as Gandolfini died from a heart attack likely tied to his waistline) and a self-professed slob, Eva eventually does find herself attracted to the schlub, and they start dating. But then Eva realizes that a new client/friend of hers (played by Catherine Keener) is Albert’s ex-wife, and though she wants to do the right thing and come clean, she is also grateful for the covert intel on her new man. After all, there’s value in learning the dirt on someone before getting into a serious relationship, especially when you’ve been hurt before.
Enough Said works the screwball elements of the plot for almost a full hour, with Eva nearly being found out multiple times before the truth is revealed. I know, this is a rom-com aimed squarely at female moviegoers, and I’ve been told that the ladies love prolonging the drama, but I found the plot machinations tedious, especially seeing as a person in this situation in real life would last about six seconds before caving or being discovered. That said, there’s still so much to like about the movie that I was willing to wait out the long middle to get to the satisfying and weepy conclusion.
Conventional wisdom is that there are no good roles for middle-aged women in Hollywood, but Louis-Dreyfus has found a great one. That director Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money) cast her must have required a leap (see: TV actress), and Louis-Dreyfus doesn’t let her down. The character of Eva allows her to be understatedly funny, both in a physical sense (she’s always lugging around a huge massage table) and in a verbal one. That the actress nails the humor is not a surprise — she has always been a gifted comedienne. That she also kills it in the emotional scenes is something of a revelation, with the actress selling her character’s dilemma and making the inherently goofy scenario fly.
There isn’t one moment in Enough Said where I felt like Louis-Dreyfus was doing a variation on her Seinfeld role (which, let’s face it, is what New Adventures of Old Christine was all about). This is a full performance. But it comes in a comedy, which probably means Louis-Dreyfus won’t get much award season love — but hey, she’s got those Emmys to fall back on, right?
The rest of the cast is solid, starting with Gandolfini, himself known mostly as a TV guy, who finds real vulnerability in Albert. There are also good supporting turns by Keener, and by Toni Collette and Ben Falcone, who play a cold-warring married couple who provide an interesting counterpoint to Eva’s singledom. Enough Said gets so much right about dating, aging and life in general that it’s easy to gloss over the plot contrivances — even if I was tempted to say Enough already.
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Looks amazing. Great job, you guys!