Fans of James Gandolfini will be hopping around in anticipation for the release of Enough Said, the actor’s penultimate film. Luckily, unlike his third-to-last film Nicky Deuce which has had poor reviews, this is a worthy last testament to Gandolfini’s considerable talents.
Gandolfini might be getting the attention, but it is Julia Louis-Dreyfus who is the centre of the action in this tangled web of relationships. She is of course eminently watchable, however all the cast are compelling. Louis-Dreyfus herself plays Eva, an LA masseuse whose life is approaching a major turning point as her daughter prepares to leave home to go to university on the East coast. Divorced from her daughter’s father and with no current partner, she faces the prospect of living on her own with quiet dread.
This might sound heavy going, but all the relationships in Enough Said are run through with a thick vein of humour and all the actors seasoned comic players. Things start to look up for Eva after she meets Albert (Gandofini) at a party, who looks like he could be potential boyfriend material. The situation appears even better when at the same party a poet, Marianne (Catherine Keener), asks for her business card. Now it looks like she has a new friend (and massage client), plus a burgeoning romance.
Before she can get too happy, it becomes clear to her (but not to them) that the two new people in her life were previously married. That would not be a problem in itself, but Marianne is constantly bad mouthing her former husband. He was clumsy in bed, a slob about the house and generally one of the most irritating specimens of humanity it is possible to meet. Soon, Eva is also feeling that her new beau is a cack-handed oaf.
Enough Said is directed by Nicole Holofcener, who has previously worked on TV series such as Sex and the City and Parks and Recreation, as well as directing a handful of feature films. Her friend Catherine Keener has starred in all of Holofcener’s films. Indeed, female relationships are a dominant theme in her movies.
They are well drawn. Eva’s well worn friendship with Sarah (the ever marvellous Toni Collette) balances the honesty and evasion we’re all familiar with with old mates. The relationship with her daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) is tender in both senses of the word – loving, but liable to emotional flare ups. Her interaction with Albert’s daughter (Eve Hewson, Bono’s daughter in real life) and her fondness for her daughter’s best friend Chloe (Tavi Gavinson) have the ring of honesty too.
This brings us to Gandolfini himself. The film is dedicated to the actor who died of a heart attack in Rome this summer, and although he might not be centre stage, he is certainly a powerful presence. He brings a hangdog charm and warm wit to his character, Albert, who is, perhaps more than anyone else in the film, just who he is. Eerily, one of the faults that his ex-wife sees in him is that he is over weight.
Lovers of movie dinner scenes will find a few enjoyable additions to cinema’s canon of meal time conversations. Indeed conversation, and the different ways we listen, lies at the heart of the film. It’s often easy to forget how others opinions can affect our own. Possibly maturity means realising that relationships are as much about our perceptions as the people we are looking at. Enough Said makes this point with poignant charm.
Enough Said is out in UK cinemas on Friday 18 October, 2013.