I had a rather amusing movie-going moment during Nicole Holofcener's 'Enough Said.' Despite some misgivings, I was having a decent enough time during its opening act - mostly because it was great to see James Gandolfini on screen and playing a nice guy. Then it became obvious: this movie isn't going anywhere. I started to get annoyed. So I did that one thing an audience member can do to fight back at a movie that's turned sour without disturbing other people. I checked my watch. It's as if the movie saw me, because the minute - no, the second - I glanced down I heard a line of dialogue that made me go "aha! So there is a story in here somewhere."
It's something of an "aha!" moment for our lead character Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) too. You see, she's a single mother working as a masseuse in Southern California who has almost given up on dating. With her daughter about to leave for college she's panicked that she's going to have to "take up a hobby" or something once she's gone. At a party her married chums Toni Collette and Ben Falcone drag her to, she forces herself to socialize. She meets a fascinating woman named Marianne (Catherine Keener) who is a poet (!) and soon becomes a new client and friend. She also meets Albert (James Gandolfini), a divorced man that she isn't physically attracted to (he's fat, as she bluntly puts it) but she does get slightly charmed by his chatter.
She and Gandolfini go out on a date and he's warm and self-deprecating and compliments her in clever ways. He exudes confidence and wisdom and, rather quickly, Eva is smitten. (Score one for fat dudes with silver tongues everywhere.)
The pair become an item. It's lovely. They laugh. They make love. They talk about middle age, about their kids and about their exes. In follow-up chats with Marianne, whose gorgeous furniture and homegrown chervil Ewa holds aspirational, there's more talk about exes, and just as Marianne is eviscerating her flabby good-for-nothing immature former husband we realize . . .it's Albert.
This Preston Sturges-esque scenario plays itself out through all the usual beats, but the spin "Enough Said" gives it is how Marianne's opinion matters so much to Ewa. It's not as if they are lifelong friends, but Holofcener's script ultimately makes the case that the person we think we want to be is rarely the person we are going to be. . .and trying to force this is usually fruitless and depressing toil.
Perhaps its sadness at his early departure, but Gandolfini really pulls at the heartstrings in this one. He's the big cuddly teddy bear, but also a remarkable intellect. (He works as an archivist for an institution similar to the Paley Center for Media.) He's not doing his Tony Soprano voice here, and it doesn't take more than a second to connect with him and this new character.
It's not so easy for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I must confess that it took me quite some time - maybe half the movie - before I could see her as anything other than Elaine. When she was being serious, I kinda chuckled to myself. This is the curse, I suppose, of being so closely associated with an iconic television character. Although, like I said, I had no problem with Gandolfini and his non-Jersey accent (which he's kept for recent films like "Killing Them Softly" and "Not Fade Away.") So maybe it's Dreyfus. Or maybe it's me.
Forgive the tangent, but, frankly, there's lots of space in "Enough Said" for your mind to wander. It's not like it's a bad picture, but you've seen this one a thousand times before. And while there are some okay side stories (stuff with the daughters and daughters' friends) it kinda feels like attending a dinner party and checking in on the first world problems of a friend you kinda like, but don't like enough to ask any follow up questions. You care, maybe even identify, but also wish they'd shut up already.
SCORE: 6.0 / 10