Friday, September 27, 2013


Nicole Holofcener's most commercial film also happens to be her best. With "Enough Said," the writer and director has crafted a perfect comedy for adults, a romantic comedy that is smart, sophisticated and never less than pleasantly engaging. It's also arguably her funniest work to date largely thanks to the magnificent Julia Louis-Dreyfus who appears in and carries every single scene. And beside her is the late, great James Gandolfini, such an unconventional casting pair you would never think up, but after seeing the film, you can't picture anyone else in these roles.

Louis-Dreyfus (two-time Emmy winner for her hilariously biting turn in HBO's "Veep") brings her signature wit and wicked tongue here but with an ounce more compassion. Gandolfini doesn't try to keep up with her but instead runs at his own pace with comic timing that is slower and complementary to the actress' barbs. The opposite of every mobster (namely Tony Soprano) we've seen him play, he's gentle, a big sweetheart looking for love, and he's a marvel in the understated role. I certainly wouldn't mind a campaign pushing for the actor to get nominated for a posthumous Oscar.

The film's initial scenes are the first dates between Louis-Dreyfus' Eva and Gandolfini's Albert getting to know each other. They are so natural together, and it's a treat to watch them play off each other and spar romantically. Eva meets Albert at a party the same night she meets Marianne (Holofcener mainstay Catherine Keener), a new client for Eva who conducts in-house massage sessions in breezy Santa Monica. Eva quickly discovers, however, that Marianne is Albert's ex-wife, and hearing her rants on Albert largely skewers Eva's otherwise clean perception of her new love interest. It's a fun, clever twist that always contributes to the movie's larger theme on trusting your instincts and having faith in love that never feels contrived or forced.

This is Holofcener's first time focusing on only two characters rather than a large ensemble, though she still enlists Toni Collette and Ben Falcone to play Eva's married friends Sarah and Will. Sarah is in a moral conundrum over firing the maid, which borders on the movie falling victim to upper-class white people problems, but the larger notion addressed lets that fall to the wayside. It's about characters fumbling their way to trying to do what's right. In the case of Eva, does continuing the friendship with Albert's ex-wife protect herself from hurt or act as self-sabotage? You be the judge. The screenplay also nicely navigates second-marriages, which are more and more becoming the norm, as well as the separation anxiety -- for adults -- that comes with sending kids off to college.

The way Holofcener crafts her films to let moral quandaries and questions of human nature unfold is uniquely her own, and it's nice to see her make something that may reach a wider audience in the process. The lead performances in "Enough Said" are certainly reason enough.

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