Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Enough Said (2013)

Imagine if Enough Said featured the characters of Elaine Benes and Tony Soprano.  With their tempers this could have been the most violent romantic comedy ever made.  There would be a lot of bodies in their wake.

Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorcee and mother working as a masseuse.  She seems to be content with not dating, but her daughter, Ellen (Tracey Fairaway), is leaving for college soon.  Perhaps not wanting to face the reality of having an empty nest, she begins to date Albert (James Gandolfini), a regular guy she met at a party.  Albert is also a single parent with a daughter preparing to leave home.  The two hit it off and things seem to be going well.

Meanwhile, Eva takes on a new client, Marianne (Catherine Keener), and they form a friendship as they bond over stories about their exes.  However, Eva slowly realizes that Albert is actually Marianne's ex-husband.  Rather than come clean, she keeps everyone in the dark as Marianne continues to dish dirt about Albert and eventually poison their relationship.

This aspect of the film could have been an absolute mess if handled differently, and there are lots of bad examples of coincidence like this being horribly contrived, but fortunately Enough Said is a smarter and more realistic film.  It's clear that Eva is torn with the prospect of coming clean and how it will affect her relationships.  While it did bug me a little that she didn't fess up right away, you can understand why she didn't, and Eva doesn't escape without consequence.  Despite Eva's mishandling of the situation, you still can identify with her.  It's not like she's bad person.

Another interesting angle in the movie was how Eva was dealing with the impending send off of her daughter.  She forms an odd bond with Ellen's best friend, Chloe (Tavi Gevinson), which isn't something that Ellen is all that wild about.  This could have felt forced or melodramatic, but it fit in well with everything Eva was already feeling and dealing with.  It helped that both Chloe and Ellen were portrayed as normal teens, rather than bitchy or angsty.  I'm tired of seeing movies where teens hate their parents by default.  Some kids actually get along with and love their parents.

One of the things that puts Enough Said in another league from other romantic comedies is that it's chock full of great performances.  Even the supporting roles are developed and acted well.  Eva's best friend Sarah (Toni Collette) and her husband Will (Ben Falcone) are hilarious as a couple that always seem to throw subtle, and some not so subtle, digs at each other.  The two of them were a highlight of the film.  Did you know that Toni Collette is from Australia?  I had no idea until I saw Enough Said.  I don't recall ever hearing her speak with her natural accent before.

Enough Said is consistently funny and ranges from being very sweet to awkward and uncomfortable humor.  I didn't find it cheesy and this is due in large part to it avoiding a lot of the typical romantic comedy cliches.  It also has an open ending, rather than wrapping everything up neatly with a nice little bow.  Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, she does a great job of avoiding melodrama and balancing all the characters and plot elements well.  Even the limited interaction between Eva and her ex (Toby Huss) was handled in a cordial manner, rather than filled with acrimony.  Enough Said is a breath of fresh air for those frustrated with rom-coms where characters don't communicate or say what they really feel.

It's a shame this is James Gandolfini's last movie as he is really great in the role.  He's funny, charming and easy to relate to.  Part of me watched Enough Said with a heavy heart knowing this was gonna be it for him.  You will be missed, Mr. Gandolfini.

This is really Julia Louis-Dreyfus' movie though and she's fantastic.  I didn't really think about this until after, but this is a rare film role for her as she's stuck more to TV.  She's a total comedy pro and her timing and delivery is as sharp as ever.  Her chemistry with Gandolfini was very natural, and you never have any issues buying into their relationship.  She also shows a tender side and there's a few scenes toward the end that pulled on my heartstrings a bit.  I hope her success here encourages her to take on more roles on the big screen.

Enough Said is a mature romantic comedy.  It's sensitive, smart, realistic and features great performances from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini.  This is a great date movie to catch on a matinee.

4 (out of 5) Death Stars

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