Movie Review: Enough Said
Austin360.com | Austin American-Statesman
Eva’s life is rote but decent. She is a masseuse with the typical range of clients: the one with bad breath, the one who won’t shut up, the one who won’t help her with her table. She is insecure about her intellect, convinced she is not as smart as her friends.
It’s exactly the sort of character one expects from director Nicole Holofcener.
Known for low-key ensemble dramas such as “Walking and Talking” and “Lovely and Amazing,” which virtually define “indie film” (and putting Catherine Keener in all of her features), Holofcener pares down and polishes up a bit to focus on one couple in “Enough Said.”
That this movie featured James Gandolfini’s last role was a wicked twist of fate and naturally lends a certain poignancy to his already strong performance as Albert, a kind, cautious man who hasn’t dated much since his divorce.
He meets Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) at a party, they bond over their daughters who are about to head off to college and decide a date wouldn’t be completely out of the question.
Soon, a thoughtful, adult relationship develops in spite of Albert’s rude daughter Tess (Eve Hewson, a.k.a. the daughter of U2 singer Bono), a child whom he nonetheless adores and will miss when she heads off to school on the East Coast.
Eva doesn’t have many pals outside of Sarah (Toni Collette) and Will (Ben Falcone, best known, to be frank, as Mr. Melissa McCarthy), whose sniping marriage is unpleasant to watch.
So it’s a joy when she bonds with a client named Marianne (Keener, playing the Catherine Keener part), a poet with the sort of fanbase that approaches her on the street. (Poets, how often has this happened to you?)
Meanwhile, Eva, unsure of how she feels about her daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) leaving home, starts to bond with Ellen’s pal Chloe (wunderkind Rookie magazine editor Tavi Gevinson) without quite noticing how it is affecting Ellen.
Both Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus do strong work, but it’s virtually impossible not to look at anything other than Gandolfini when he’s on screen. His nuanced Albert is a strong reminder than Gandolfini could do pretty much anything, that Tony Soprano was, if anything, the furthest thing from this guy, a fellow who could essay deeply civilized as well or better than he could play the amoral beast.
For much of the movie, it a calm pleasure to see a middle-age, post-kids relationship painted so deftly. So it’s awfully frustrating when the big twist happens and plunges the movie into a more commercial, less meandering realm.
It’s to the cast’s credit, especially Gandolfini’s, that they roll with this punch about as well as the script allows, but there is only so much they can do. It’s not that Holofcener chucks them under the bus, but it’s hard not to see the pained expressions on the actors’ faces when they realize where this is going. It’s rough for the characters, the actors and the audience.