Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money) wrote and directed Enough Said, a romantic comedy-drama that, rather than focusing on youthful leads who look like runway models, focuses on the relationships of older characters, middle-aged men and women who are rarely represented in films like this, and the realistic and wonderfully subtle script along with a top-notch cast, created a film that is moving and funny as well as romantic and sweet.
It was like a breath of fresh air from the minute the film began. I’ve seen plenty of films that tell the tale of new love, of romance and the blossoming of relationships, but it is so often treated in such an illusory fashion that it is almost impossible to identify with the characters and the story they are weaving. This film is different. It deals with characters that feel real and act in ways that we act, talk like we talk and have flaws, like everybody does. It also isn’t saccharine-sweet with what it does, but rather willing to show the bruises, the heartache, the clumsiness and the misery that comes with life, and love.
Eva, a character played in such a brilliantly sensitive and convincing way by Julie Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) is a single parent who has been through a divorce. She works as a masseuse and finds herself in a situation where her daughter, Ellen (Tracey Fairaway), is about to leave to go across-country to college. She goes to a party with her friends and meets Albert, played with a congenially blemished realism by the late, great James Gandolfini (The Sopranos). The two begin to date and find that they have many things in common, and romance begins to bloom as the two spend time together. At the same party where Eva met Albert, she also met Marianne (Catherine Keener) and agrees to be her masseuse. The two begin a friendship over their weekly massage-sessions, but the one problem, unbeknownst to those involved, to begin with, is that Marianne is Albert’s ex-wife. When Eva discovers this and keeps it to herself, she finds herself listening to Marianne speaking negatively about her ex-husband, talking about his defects and idiosyncrasies, causing Eva to question her relationship with him in the process. With her friends urging her to move past the issue and focus on her relationship, but her mind becoming obsessed with the matter, the difficulties that the situation causes begin to play out.
The two leads here, Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini, do a magnificent job of showing a relationship between two people who have already been there and done that. Providing an insight into what dating may be like for two individuals who are both afraid to be hurt again yet want to find companionship once more. Both incredibly likeable and with quirks that many of us will be able to connect with, their story is intriguing, and watching the bizarre situation unfold, with us knowing that it can’t exactly turn out well for anyone, provides a fly-on-the-wall like feel to things, as we urge, from our couch, for Eva to come clean, and for the two to allow their blossoming partnership to continue un-wavered. Side characters, such as Keener’s Marianne, a poet who feels the need to vent about her failed former relationship to her masseuse, Fairaway’s Ellen, the young daughter of Eva, who is trying to stay strong about leaving home, while watching her mother bond with one of her friends, causing jealousy to rear its head, present a rich world that our leads inhabit. Toni Collette (In Her Shoes) as Eva’s best friend, Sarah, is a sarcastic and down-to-earth presence in Eva’s life, giving her advice and support when she needs it, while having an enjoyably-conflicting relationship with her equally-sarcastic husband, Will (Ben Falcone). Tavi Gevinson as Chloe, Ellen’s best friend who forms a bond with Eva during the movie, showing an obvious neediness for maternal love that is perhaps lacking at home, is enjoyable to watch too, providing Eva a way to see what is right in front of her nose. It’s a well assembled cast, and one that has a solid chemistry, especially between Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus, one of the most enjoyable love-stories in recent memory.
If you have an image in your head of what you think this film might be, perhaps judging it as a typical and overly-sugary rom-com from Hollywood, then I advise you to re-evaluate that judgement. It’s an independent drama, with some top notch humour and a romantic story, and it meshes those things brilliantly. Representing an age group seldom seen in your run-of-the-mill tale of love, Holofcener’s writing and direction, along with Xavier Grobet’s rustically beautiful cinematography and a cast who truly seem to care about the end-result, this is a treat, and a film I was charmed by, thoroughly. It is rare that I don’t have a negative thing to say about films that deal with life, especially the “dating/romance” side of it, but here I truly don’t. It might not be for the cynical of viewers, but as a sceptical guy myself, I was won over by the spirited nature of this movie, and the fantastic characters inside it.
Enough Said is available on DVD and Blu-ray, worldwide, and is also available to watch, streaming, on Netflix Canada.