Written by: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette
Love does not belong to the young and can occur at any age, which you could forget when basing this opinion solely on the output of Hollywood romances. Typically focused on younger individuals and their issues, getting an honest and earnest romance between older people feels refreshing, especially when they have the quality of Enough Said. A wonderfully enjoyable and warm story featuring a splendid cast dealing with honest issues.
Divorced and not really looking for a relationship, Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) meets Albert (James Gandolfini) at a party and the two hit it off. Around the same time, Eva gets a new client for her massage therapy practice, Marianne (Catherine Keener), with who she strikes a strong and quick friendship. Two wonderful new relationships blossoming in her life until she discovers Marianne and Albert used to be married.
Stories where a high school senior prepares to go to college typically center on the teenager, as they are in a moment of big change in their lives. Enough Said instead turns the camera over to the mother figure, in this case, Eva, and how she plans to cope with her daughter leaving and the wasteland she has remaining around her. Taking this particular stance allows writer/director Nicole Holofcener to operate at her height in delivering a wonderfully earnest story about one’s priorities when getting romantically involved at a certain age.
Eva has lived life and has most likely had flings with different individuals. She then got married thinking this would be the person she would spend the rest of her life with, which evidently did not come true. With any new relationship, what she looks for comes differently than when in her 20s or 30s because time is of the essence. This gets right at the foundation of the relationship she forms with Albert. She admits to not being physically attracted to him, but he represents something else entirely for her. Eva has followed the path of finding someone for their physical capabilities, but Albert provides comfort and stability in a time where it matters most to her.
The relationship they have together has a pure level of sweetness because they see themselves as people going through the same phase in life and they provide each other comfort in doing so. With both of them having teenage daughters about to leave the nest and being divorced, they have plenty in common, which binds them in a loving manner. It all gets horribly complicated when bringing in Marianne, as she mercilessly derides her ex-husband, who Eva happens to be dating and has developed tons of care for. Morally, it gets odd when Eva continues to have a friendship with Marianne and a romantic relationship with Albert but with neither of them knowing about the other connection. It creates a hijinx that will ultimately face some reckoning, but the concept behind Eva’s reasoning makes for an interesting point, which the film adequately dives into.
When in a relationship with someone you did not know prior to the romance beginning, you get to learn everything about them naturally as the relationship evolves. The honeymoon phase allows for a lack of worries and then the faults begin to become more apparent. With Eva being friends with Marianne, she gets a shortcut in learning about the faults, seeing as the latter has no problems talking about all of the downsides of being with Albert without the knowledge of Eva dating him. As Eva points out, it’s like reading the reviews of a hotel before booking it but with a human relationship. The faults do not come organically but rather by design, which invariably has an impact on the relationship between Eva and Albert. Duplicitous to say the least, but also a fascinating idea wonderfully and carefully crafted within the screenplay.
Enough Said gained plenty of press leading up to its release with it being the final role of James Gandolfini, who made his ultimate mark in The Sopranos. With the role of Albert, he puts on a teddy bear performance with such a level of sweetness that could melt your heart. Sincere in everything he does, Albert becomes this person who seemingly has everything Eva wants in a relationship moving forward. Sure, he dresses fairly casually to the surprise of Eva at times, but he’s comfortable for what he will be for the rest of his life while the protagonist of the feature is still trying to figure it out with her daughter leaving the nest. Gandolfini’s smile lights up the screen and he pairs so well with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. With them both being television legends, they work so well together with balancing the cynicism and love captured in this story.
As a filmmaker, Nicole Holofcener has cemented herself as someone telling stories not many others have an interest in crafting. She captures the aimlessness of middle age in an impactful way even if at times the issues may be gross first-world problems. Through her writing, she always finds the humanity in these characters to get down into their insecurities in such a meaningful manner and does so again with Enough Said. She harnesses the wonderful energy of these two actors along with her regular collaborator, Catherine Keener, to create a level of authenticity that has become integral to her greatest works.
Beautifully captured and scripted, Enough Said feels like a warm hug of a film with such lovable characters to follow. It allows these older characters to try to find something new in a partner and it comes across not for the sake of comedy but for genuine human connection. It feels like a trademark Holofcener film and one to return to whenever one needs an uplifting tale.