Is This TMI? Enough Said

Catherine Ellsberg ’16
Assistant Arts Editor 

When the masterful James Gandolfini walks into the frame of Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Saidall images of Tony Soprano quickly dissipate. In place of the gruff mobster towers a burly, gentle giant, and Gandolfini’s obvious talent shines. Though the actor’s premature death earlier this year undeniably casts a melancholy pall over otherwise funny scenes, there’s an undeniable grace in the movie, carried throughout by an exceptional cast.

Part of the ease and fluidity of the story comes from the sage Holofcener (previous credits include Friends with Money), who manages to create a perfect combination of indie film and romantic comedy, sometimes steering into adroit drama. While watching the film, there are several moments of “Wow, she really gets it,” and she really does. Holofcener has created what is by far my favorite film of the year.

From the outset, the plot of Enough Said might seem like familiar romcom territory: Eva (a fantastic Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a divorced masseuse, accompanies her best friend Sarah (Toni Collette) to a dinner party. There, she meets Marianne, a New-Agey poet played in pitch-perfect form by Catherine Keener (an actress who just keeps getting better and better); the two exchange cards and Marianne becomes Eva’s client. At the same party, Eva meets Albert (Gandolfini), a sanguine and charming divorcee. Inevitably, as you might have guessed, they end up dating.

So skillful is Enough Said that I would have been perfectly content to just watch Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus playfully spar. The film feels completely real in that sense – no easy feat in the Hollywood machine of sap and contrivance. The hook of the plot, though, is that as Eva and Marianne become close confidantes, it dawns on Eva that Albert is actually her client’s ex-husband. This wouldn’t be completely bad, except that Eva never lets on to either her boyfriend or her new friend her precarious situation; instead, she not only tolerates Marianne’s harsh and blunt ex-bashing, but even encourages it.

In any other director’s hands, this scenario would have been done very differently; this delicate film could have so easily been turned into raunchy fluff – insubstantial and empty. But Holofcener has the right idea. Comedy does indeed ensue; after all, this is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, queen of the awkward blunder. There are some very funny scenes: the more entrenched Eva becomes in her own mess, the more hideous the gaffs as she tries to straddle two conflicting relationships.

But beyond the slightly more obvious bedroom humor and one liners is an exceptionally subtle and moving picture. Both Eva and Albert are divorced, and the excruciating part of the film’s punch line – that Eva is hearing the nitty-gritty of her boyfriend’s previous marriage – is that there’s something so humble, so plebeian, about falling out of love. Marianne goes into extreme detail about the little things she can’t stand about Albert – the annoying way he eats guacamole, his lack of bedside nightstands – but one gets the sense that these are the same “little things”that were once attractive or enticing to her in the first place.

Enough Said is more than just your average indie chick flick. The film understands just how tricky love is and how complicated, how messy, is heartbreak. It exposes rather than judges, a perfect combination that can’t help but draw you in.

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