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enough-said-movie-poster2013

Genre: Comedy

Directed by: Nicole Holofcener

Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette

There’s an immediate air of poignancy when watching Enough Said. Not because of the film itself, but because it’s our final opportunity to witness the dynamic brilliance of James Gandolfini on the big screen. Playing it shy and sensitive, Gandolfini’s Albert is worlds away from the aggressive gangster characters the actor was typecast as for much of his career and it is a sheer joy to get the opportunity to see such a different side of this always prolific performer.

The film itself falls into that growing sub-category of rom-coms focused on characters experiencing a mid-life crisis that generally star Meryl Streep. Like most of those films, Enough Said is formulaic and predictable. Unlike most of those films, it is also very funny and Streep is nowhere to be seen. Moreover, thanks mainly to its fantastic central performances, Enough Said is injected with a tenderness and honesty rarely found in romantic comedies of any sort these days.

In the lead, Julia Louis-Dreyfus expertly utilizes her talents for situation comedy as Eva, a calamity-prone masseuse with an ex-husband who is happily remarried and a daughter who’s about to leave for college. Gandolfini’s Albert is also a divorcee in a situation that mirrors Eva’s and their chance meeting at a party offers them both another opportunity of finding a soul mate. So far, so mushy and while writer/director Nicole Holofcener’s script rarely strays from the conventions of genre, it does valiantly try to present them in a original way.

Wisely refusing to show her hand early on, Holofcener revels in drawing out the cautious first steps of her protagonist’s new relationship. Their first date is deliciously awkward at times, both characters striving to suss out the other without obviously prying. Their chemistry is clear, but their pasts hold them back. Dreyfus particularly captures Eva’s reservations with a heartbreaking honesty; an opportunity for Eva to find out and scrutinize Albert’s flaws later on is nicely handled and dealt with in a delicate and convincing way that makes it feel like much more than a plot device to simply propel the inevitable rift in their relationship.

Holofcener’s consistently witty script ensures you always have something to smile about though. Each member of the cast is given a moment to shine and nearly all hit the mark. Particularly note-worthy are Toni Collette and Ben Falcone as an unhappily married couple still together for reasons that they themselves seem unsure about. Collette’s persistent sofa rearranging and Falcone’s abject refusal to be the one who fires their incompetent maid amusingly underlining the boredom that can come from a marriage turned sour.

Collette and Falcone’s relationship also highlights another strong quality in Holofcener’s film, its refusal to shy away from the ugly truths of marriage & relationships. Eva and Catherine Keener’s Marianne, as Albert’s newest and previous love, emphasize this best of all; both openly having reservations about a relationship with Albert on account of his weight, despite his everlastingly warm and caring demeanor.

It’s this warmth and care that Gandolfini effortlessly exudes that carries the film though, with his constant one-liners always making you smile and emphasizing just how excellent his comic delivery was. Dreyfus may be the focus here, but it is Gandolfini’s performance that lingers in the memory. Hilarious and heartfelt, it’s a worthy final performance from one of cinema’s finest actors.

★★★★

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