Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published November 16th 2013
James Gandolfini in one of his last film roles
Director: Nicole Holfcener (Friends With Money, Please Give, Lovely and Amazing) Cast: Julia louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Toni Colette, Catherine Keener
Romantic comedies are a tricky business. It's not often that a film manages to work both as a comedy and a romance, but then not many films are written and directed by someone as skilled and insightful as Nicole Hofolcener. She's made a career out of crafting nuanced studies of relationships and friendships - particularly friendships between women. With Enough Said, she delivers her best film to date.
James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus play divorcees Albert and Eva
Women directors don't get a lot of breaks in Hollywood. In 2012 only one American film released was directed by a woman. That's an appalling statistic. Fortunately things have improved this year and in the space of a few months we find ourselves being offered such diverse female-directed titles as In A World, Blackfish, Carrie, Austenland, Frances Ha, The Bling Ring and The Stories We Tell. Enough Said is up there with the best of these films thanks to a smart script and a pair of leads who shine together.
I have to admit to being one of the few people on the planet who hasn't seen Seinfeld, so until now I have been oblivious to the charms of Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Clearly I've been missing out on something, because she is so effortlessly funny in this and grounds the humour with real humanity. James Gandolfini is no slouch in the funnies department either, and while he may not be an obvious romantic interest, that's the whole point here.
Together the two seasoned thesps give the film its heart and soul, particularly when their characters are slowly and cautiously beginning their relationship and enjoying what they're discovering. When they're not together, there's a noticeable dip in interest.
Toni Colette gets to keep her accent as Eva's friend and sounding board, Sarah
In a nutshell Dreyfus and Gandolfini play divorcees, Eva and Albert, who meet at a party and begin a tentative relationship. Simultaneously Eva begins a friendship with a woman who turns out to be Albert's ex - not that much of a coincidence considering she met both of them at the same party. She can't help but find out all the negative things about Albert from his bitter ex, Marianne, played by the sublime Catherine Keener. Keener features in most of Holofcener's films, and the director is responsible for giving the hugely talented actor the few good roles that have saved her career from being a complete and criminal waste. Here Keener slyly adds layers to a character who could've easily been a stock, unsympathetic cypher.
Hofolcener has been plying her trade for a few years now, giving us consistently interesting, albeit understated dramadies. The fact that she has two actors known principally from television shouldn't get you thinking this is some kind of second tier sitcom brought to the big screen. This is deceptively well-crafted cinema that addresses themes that people in their 30s and beyond will relate to.
Much of the talk in the film is about second marriages, anticipating disasters, saving yourself from pain and doing yourself the favour of being who you want to be. It manages to be funny, real and romantic. Not an easy thing to do.