Movie review: Enough Said

 

I'm terribly fond of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. Louis-Dreyfus won my heart with her brilliant turns in Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine (I haven't seen her Emmy-award winning work in Veep - no HBO). Gandolfini left me in awe with his incredibly detailed portrayal of America's favorite mobster, but beyond The Sopranos he created an array of compelling characters in films such as 8mm, The Mexican and Not Fade Away. Those movies weren't very good, but he was great.

A lot of people that know the late Gandolfini only from The Sopranos will be surprised by his performance in Enough Said. The romantic comedy pairs Louis-Dreyfus with Gandolfini, which seems unlikely at first. I mean, she's so pretty and stylish and funny, and he's so, um ... non-romcom-leading-man-ish. But he wins you over in short order.

Divorced mom Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is a masseuse dreading the upcoming departure of her

daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) for college. At a party, just after confessing that there isn't a single man in attendance she finds the least bit attractive, Eva meets Albert (Gandolfini), who is also divorced and raising a teen daughter (Eve Hewson, one of Bono's kids). Albert is funny, smart and likeable, but he's also a dumpy fellow that looks like a plumber. Eva tries to dismiss Albert, but he is persistent and they soon end up on a date and, later, in the sack. Damn their differences, they make a great couple.

Romcoms require a twist and Enough Said's twist comes in the person of Marianne (Catherine Keener), a poet Eva meets at the party. Eva becomes Marianne's masseuse, and the working relationship soon becomes a friendship. Marianne is a fine gal pal, even though she spends a lot of time complaining about her awful ex-husband. SPOILER ALERT, I SUPPOSE. Eva eventually realizes that the ex being bashed by Marianne is Albert. Oh, what to do, what to do? END HALF-HEARTED SPOILER ALERT.

Okay, so the twist is kind of sitcommy. But it works as a complicating factor to allow some tension to develop between Eva and Albert. Comedy, drama and romance intertwine in a winning fashion thanks to the efforts of Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini. Catherine Keener creates a distinct character and Toni Collette provides solid support as a close friend of Eva's, but Enough Said revolves around the lead duo.

Writer/director Nicole Holofcener's screenplay has a few bumpy spots, and a subplot about Eva trying to cope with her daughter's pending departure by cozying up to the girl's best friend (Tavi Gevinson) plays mostly like a device to keep from overloading viewers with the romance and its complications. Still, Louis-Dreyfus and the young actors make the scenes palatable.

It's only been three months since James Gandolfini passed away. Enough Said is his next to last movie (his final film, Animal Rescue, is due next year). It's sad to see him onscreen at first, but his performance is so rich and full of life that the feeling quickly passes. When the actor died, it annoyed the hell out of me that so many people did tributes that were more about his TV character than him. In addition to being a smart, tart hour and a half, Enough Said is a highly entertaining reminder that James Gandolfini was a multifaceted artist who was much more than just Tony Soprano.

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Ed Johnson-Ott has been NUVO's lead film critic for more than 20 years.