Enough Said comes to us from writer/director Nicole Holofcener, who was previously responsible for… well, not much, really. Some episodes of “Sex and the City” here, a couple episodes of “Six Feet Under” there, a handful of episodes for “Parks and Recreation,” but nothing else that’s really noteworthy as far as I can tell. The film stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was curled up in the fetal position under Jerry Seinfeld’s shadow until “Veep” gave her career a new lease on life.
I was perfectly content to let this movie slip past me, until I noticed that the film had a whopping 95 percent Tomatometer. Plus, the film was one of the very last made by James Gandolfini before he tragically died of a heart attack last summer. Taking all things into consideration, I figured that was enough to merit a closer look.
The stage is set somewhere in southern California. Our protagonist is Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a once-divorced woman who works as a masseuse. She also has a teenage daughter (Ellen, played by Tracey Fairaway), who’s just about to head out for college. Toni Collette appears as Sarah, Eva’s best friend, with Ben Falcone playing Sarah’s husband………
…Huh, wha? Oh, sorry, I just fell asleep for a moment there. Where was I?
Right, so Eva goes along with Sarah to a party, where she’s introduced to a poet named Marianne (Catherine Keener). The two of them trade contact information and Marianne agrees to be Eva’s latest client. A short while later, Eva meets Albert, played by James Gandolfini. The two of them meet-cute, they go on some dates and………..
…Whoa, what? Huh? Did I doze off again? Sorry, but that’s the effect this premise has on me.
Skip ahead, skip ahead, everything’s going great until Eva finds out that her new friend Marianne is also her new boyfriend’s ex-husband. And naturally, Eva doesn’t think to tell either of them. She just lets Marianne go on with her horror stories about Albert while fearing that this latest relationship will turn out the same way.
If that sounds boring enough, it’s worth mentioning that this revelation doesn’t come until FORTY MINUTES IN. This is the central conflict of the movie, and it isn’t introduced until the movie is already halfway over. That’s pathetic.
Moreover, the conflict itself isn’t really all that interesting. The moment it’s introduced, we already know that Eva will go to comical lengths in hiding her mutual friendship for no intelligent reason, she’ll inevitably get found out, Eva and Albert will break up, and then they’ll make nice at the end. And yeah, that’s more or less exactly what happens.
The central conflict is rather boring, and the rest of the film isn’t all that interesting, either. It’s all about hiring/firing the gardener, dealing with unpleasant clients, a mother and daughter who both like the same dress, cheating on diets, etc. All these boring white people with their boring white problems. If someone optioned the “First World Problems” meme, I’ll bet the end result would look a lot like this movie.
Additionally, the film is loaded with so many secondary characters and sideplots that go nowhere. Tw0 prominent examples are Cathy the gardener (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes) and Ellen’s best friend (Chloe, played by Tavi Gevinson). I can’t for the life of me figure out why these unnecessary comic relief side characters keep popping up in comedies. I know that they can do wonders for action and drama pictures when done properly, but comic relief in a comedy seems redundant.
With all of that said, I get what the movie was going for. I understand that one person’s ex could be another person’s dreamboat (or vice versa), and I’m sure there’s a very good movie waiting to be made about the subject. I just wish that the subject had been explored with genuine emotion and interesting characters instead of so much bland and contrived sitcom bullshit.
On the other hand, the movie is not completely without merit. It’s still very sweet, very charming, and even quite funny in places. It certainly helps that the comedy is based on the kind of ironic and self-deprecating humor that Louis-Dreyfus built her career on. She acquits herself surprisingly well, until the third act ruins everything for her. I honestly started to feel ashamed for Louis-Dreyfus when I saw her try to play “teary and heartbroken.” She just can’t play that.
Of course, the saving grace of this movie is in Louis-Dreyfuss’ chemistry with James Gandolfini. That pairing was absolute genius. It’s amazing how the two of them seem like such an unlikely couple, but they play off each other so beautifully. It helps that Gandolfini doesn’t look a thing like Prince Charming, but he turns out to be so sweet, funny, witty, charismatic and oh good God, why didn’t Gandolfini live longer?
Okay, let’s take a moment to address the elephant in the room. I realize that Gandolfini came to fame playing mobsters, hitmen, and other such violent characters. As such, it may seem strange to think that a starring role in this fluffy little romantic comedy was one of the last performances he ever gave. Personally, I think it works perfectly as Gandolfini’s swan song, precisely because it’s so far removed from “The Sopranos.” With this movie, Gandolfini proved that he wasn’t just Tony Soprano. He could be funny and sentimental just as easily as he could be tough and imposing. There were so many sides to this actor that we never got to see. We’ll never know how many great performances he had left in him.
James Gandolfini lived to be 51 years old, and he was still taken from us too soon. That is rare and extraordinary.
Getting back to the movie, I don’t really hate Enough Said. The film is harmless fluff, getting by entirely on charm, humor, and the chemistry of its two leads. By far the biggest problem of the movie (aside from its predictable plot and terrible pacing) is that it was clearly made for a very specific demographic.
If you’re a middle-class, middle-aged, white person living in America, you should definitely give it a look. Everyone else should either wait for a rental or skip the film entirely.