Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Enough Said

For F*** Magazine

ENOUGH SAID

Director: Nicole Holofcener
Cast:  Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Eve Hewson, Tavi Gevinson, Tracey Fairaway
Genre: Drama
Run Time: 93 mins
Opens: 7 November 2013
Rating: PG13 (Some Sexual References)

          Over the years, “chick flicks” have gotten a bad rap. Sure, classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Terms of Endearment probably are considered chick flicks, but recent entries in this film genre headlined by the Katherine Heigls and the Kate Hudsons of the world aren’t exactly examples of quality cinema. Adjectives like “shallow”, “materialistic”, “frivolous” and “saccharine” come to mind. Well, if you’ve grown weary of films like that, Enough Said is the romantic comedy-drama for you.

Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is a hardworking massage therapist who has found a new client in the form of Marianne (Keener), a poet. They form a friendship over the course of several massage sessions, and Eva notices that Marianne persists in speaking disparagingly about her ex-husband. Eva is a divorcee herself, and embarks upon a relationship with Albert (Gandolfini), an oafish but charming television history archivist. At the same time, Eva’s daughter Ellen (Fairaway) is about to leave for college, and Eva just doesn’t know if she can cope. She also inadvertently draws closer to Ellen’s friend Chloe (Gevinson), drawing the ire of her own daughter. Once Eva starts picking up on Albert’s little idiosyncrasies, their relationship begins to strain and Eva must get a grip not only as a masseuse, but in her personal life as well.
 
It’s always nice to see a romantic film with a cast that isn’t populated entirely by idealized, impossibly beautiful 20-somethings. Films like Something’s Gotta Give and last year’s Hope Springs that skew towards those of a certain vintage do indeed have something a lot of films about young, reckless love lack. In Enough Said, the characters tackle a mid-life romance from a place of experience, their struggles and foibles well-developed and immensely relatable. The film’s sweet, grounded nature makes it very palatable; there aren’t outrageous slapstick set pieces or wacky hijinks. A good part of the film is just people sitting on steps, talking – that’s even the image used for the poster.

Now, a movie consisting mostly of people sitting on steps and talking might sound boring, but Enough Said draws one into the relationships it depicts and proves entirely engaging, thanks to Nicole Holofcener’s screenplay and direction. Her films, which include Walking and Talking, Lovely & Amazing and Friends with Money, have garnered praise for their approach to romance and relationships. Evident in those films and very much so in Enough Said is Holofcener’s understanding of the feelings and concerns women face; something ironically lacking from a good deal of chick flicks.



A film of this sort live or dies by whether the audience is willing to accept its leads as a couple – no need for concern here. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini are wonderful together. She handles the role of the funny everywoman with ease, putting on an array of hilarious expressions whenever a reaction to something is required. Gandolfini is probably best-known as the imposing Mafioso Tony Soprano, but he embodies the gentler, loveable Albert just as well. Albert isn’t the stereotypically “perfect” rom com leading man, but that definitely adds to the believability of the character and Gandolfini brings a lot of heart to the role. Quite touchingly, the simple dedication “for Jim” appears during the end credits.


Holofcener’s oft-collaborator Catherine Keener is also good as the poet Marianne. The character definitely has the potential to come off as snooty or unlikeable, what with her perfectly put-together home, penchant for growing her own chervil and, well, her being a poet – but Keener never plays that up and you’ll genuinely want Eva and Marianne to stay friends. Toni Collette is a hoot in her uncomplicated role as Eva’s friend Sarah, who doesn’t hide her disdain for sheepish, malapropism-prone husband Will (Falcone). The young actresses who round out the cast, including Tracey Fairaway, Eve Hewson and teenage fashion magazine editor Tavi Gevinson (who bears quite the resemblance to Scarlett Johansson) make for realistic teen characters, never overly sulky or insufferable.



Holofcener’s mastery of tone is also admirable. Oftentimes, romantic comedies tumble wildly into ungainly melodramatic territory. Here, the film’s dip into relationship troubles and empty nest worries doesn’t feel like an arm-twisting and even then, Enough Said stays a safe distance from being sappy and emotionally manipulative. Perhaps it helps that the film doesn’t fall over itself trying to “upend the formula”, and that it’s lovingly painted instead of scrawled on the wall by a cynic. The setup may sound rather sitcom-ish, some might perceive it as "mundane" and perhaps there is a predictability to the proceedings, but Enough Said emerges as one of the finest romantic comedies in recent memory.

SUMMARY: Subtle, sweet, honest, relatable funny and very well-acted by two convincing, likeable leads, Enough Said is also a terrific movie to remember the late James Gandolfini by.

RATING: 4 out of 5 STARS

Jedd Jong 

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