The direct result of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener and writer/director Nicole Holofcener, an amalgamation of infinite and indescribable talent working together is Enough Said, which utilises a genre and plot convention to the point that it serves as a mere backdrop to one of the best films of the year. Review after the jump.
Eva (Louis Dreyfus) a masseuse, is preparing for her daughter to leave for college. Her best friend Sarah (Colette) sympathises for her but isn’t one who can relate. They’re both at a party one evening when Eva meets Albert (Gandolfini), a divorcee who also has a daughter leaving for college. The two instantly hit it off, as they’re both aware of the sting felt when your only child leaves; and both being divorcees, they’re more than privy to the lonely feeling it leaves behind. Both are exuberant people with glowing sense of humour, suffice it to say, there’s hardly a predictable moment in their relationship. Of course, like any story adhering to the romantic dramedy formula, there is a fork in the road, in the form of a new client for Eva (played by Catherine Kenner). She knows Albert, she’s met him before, but what does she know? How does she know him? What could dampen their more than charming connection?
It is the opinion of this reviewer that Nicole Holofcener might just be one of the best screenwriter’s we’ve got. She thrives when writing female protagonists, never short-changing characters for convenience of plot, let alone members of any particular gender. To Holofcener, people are people, characters are characters. Unlike most of the films released this year, the only judgement that occurs is between characters in the film to build a story, as opposed to it being on the audience or devised from Holofcener herself in her creation of the story and characters. She’s far more intelligent and restrained than that. Enough Said is one of her best films, and her adoration for her characters is more prevalent than ever, which only makes the experience of seeing the film all the more endearing.
Cited as James Gandolfini’s last on-screen performance (which it isn’t, Animal Rescue is due for release next year), the film, although not its entire purpose, serves as a wonderful collage of dedication the man had for every role he was given. The character of Albert is an interesting one with dimensions (thanks to Holofcener’s screenplay), but it’s Gandolfini’s delicate yet precise approach that makes him feel like someone you know. Julia Louis-Dreyfus grounds her character to a living, breathing human being who feeds of exuberance and optimism. Her character’s interaction with Albert is just another reminder of what a film is capable of telling and instilling in us as an audience. People speak to elaborate on themselves and to learn from the other, not to tell us the mechanics of a tired plot. To elaborate on each and every performance and just how good they are would require several blank War and Peace sized novels. Just trust me, there’s no such thing as a bad performance or a lacking one here.
The only real aspect of the film that prevents it from being necessarily perfect or one that’s above all forms of conventional storytelling, is the insistence on musical cues and one direction in which the story goes (which won’t be spoiled here). They’re predictable, yes, but the weakness still lends to the film’s overall success. We hear musical cues that are of course familiar and to a degree, manufactured, but in the foreground of said score is a great scene with meticulous and intelligent dialogue and pacing that would need a lot more than some predictable song note to falter it. The cliché of the score and the predictable plot turn seem like they were incorporated at the insistence of the studio, not from Holofcener. However, even if they were her design, it doesn’t matter as the foundations are there and they are deep, thoughtful and well constructed that any minor predictabilities (in any aspect of the film) are overshadowed by the quality of everything else before us.
By Chris Elena
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Writer(s): Nicole Holofcener
Starring: James Gandolfini, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone
Runtime: 93 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia: November 14, 2013; USA: October 11, 2013