Enough Said – Film Review – 2013 – Film Dispenser

Film October 1, 2013 Scott Phillips
Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every Fall.

Romantic comedy is a genre label that can be very limiting. It implies cute young couples meeting, dating, arguing (or suffering some misfortune) and ultimately reuniting, so everyone goes home thinking happy thoughts about love and commitment. Enough Said, starring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is at times romantic and is frequently quite funny, but it is much more than a “romantic comedy”. It’s a story about trying to find love for a second time after failing to live happily ever after the first time around.

Albert (James Gandolfini) is a middle-aged curator at a museum dedicated to the history of television. His marriage to Marianne (Catherine Keener) ended in a bitter divorce, the kind where years later your ex-wife is still telling people that you had an annoying way of eating guacamole. Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a middle-aged masseuse who had a somewhat less bitter divorce, but she is still emotionally damaged and lives a solitary life, carting her massage table to the homes of strangers who feel the need to unburden themselves to her like she’s a bartender at their favorite watering hole.

Instead of the typical “meet cute” scenario found in most romantic comedies, Albert and Eva “meet awkward” at a Los Angeles party where they talk about their teenage daughters instead of trendy nightspots and the latest vegan diets. Both of their offspring are headed off to college, and the empty nest seems even emptier without a mate to help fend off the loneliness. Instead of walking in the rain, taking carriage rides and offering up lines like “You had me at hello”, Albert and Eva proceed with caution. They’ve both been burned, and neither of them is interested in another long-term commitment that ends badly.

Their budding relationship is complicated by a twist that I won’t reveal here. It’s a little too convenient. It’s a little too coincidental. But, in the world of romantic comedies, the degree of manipulation by the script of Enough Said is minor, and the drama that results is worth your suspension of disbelief.

The script by writer/director Nicole Holofcener offers many laughs, and none of them are the cheap bodily function, “toilet humor” that we’ve come to expect from most Hollywood comedies. The humor is character-driven and witty. The punchlines aren’t so much quips and sarcasm as they are awkward moments and observations by the characters that at times bring a little sympathy with the laugh. It’s a more sophisticated humor that manages to serve the narrative rather than jar the audience out of it. In its low-key way, it’s the funniest movie I’ve seen this year.

Enough Said comes with one big piece of baggage that simply can’t be avoided: the death of James Gandolfini. As I watched his fine, subtle performance, I couldn’t help feeling a tinge of sadness. After a career of playing tough guys, hitmen and military officers, it was refreshing to see him dig into a character who is an ordinary person. His performance left me wondering what might have been if we had been able to keep him for years to come. I hope to see Enough Said again in theaters. I think I’ll enjoy it even more the second time around because I’ll be less focused on the fact that it’s Gandolfini’s last performance.

That said, all the accolades shouldn’t go to the leading man. Julia Louis-Dreyfus shows why she is the most successful member of the post-Seinfeld cast. Her comedic timing is as impeccable as ever, but there is far more to her performance than laughs. She injects Eva with a worldly reluctance that serves as a nice balance to the humor in the film. She’s been disappointed so many times that she’s paralyzed, looking for reasons not to pursue relationships. Her inward (and at times outward) nitpicking of Albert doesn’t result from maliciousness. She’s just kicking the tires thoroughly before she signs on for more potential heartbreak. In other hands, Eva might have been a bit of a shrew. To Louis-Dreyfus’ credit, she simply makes Eva human.

When you see Enough Said, you will laugh, but you will also nod at many developments because they will be familiar and real. You know people like Albert and Eva. They work in your office. They date your friends and family. While the film works well as a comedy, it is also an admirable look at love, hurt, and the perils and joys of maturing and growing old. What more could you want from a film in 95 minutes?

Scott Phillips

The Movie Isle

Scott Phillips holds a degree in print journalism from the University of Georgia and is currently a member of the Georgia Film Critics Association (GAFCA). In addition to his role as a correspondent for Timed Edition, Scott serves as the Executive Editor and Senior Writer for themovieisle.com. From 2013 through 2017, he reviewed films for filmdispenser.com. Along with his duties as a critic, Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every fall.

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