Overview:  A divorced masseuse determines that her client, a woman with whom she is beginning a friendship, is the ex-wife of her current boyfriend.  Fox Searchlight; 2013; Rated PG-13, 93 Minutes.

Enough Said

I wonder if he’s seen her dance.

Get OUT:  Julia Louis-Dreyfuss walks a pretty incredible line here as Eva:  She maintains the film’s humor even when the storyline’s sensibility leans more toward the bitter than the sweet, and again when her actions and treatment of her boyfriend Albert (James Gandolfini) are borderline detestable.  She keeps the movie continually clever and almost always funny. We know her to be practiced in the field of steady comedy and, in fact, there is a stretch in this movie in which she seems to clomp right into her familiar sitcom stomping ground.  When Eva decides not to tell her boyfriend or his ex-wife that she knows the other, instead choosing to mine the ex-wife for information and use it in negative judgment against him, it feels like a borrowed script from the mid-90s.  We get the right star, we get the incessant and neurotic judgment of a partner, and we get the unlikely but amusing situation of coincidence and low-key deception. Basically, we get interrupted by a lost Seinfeld episode.

Holofcener:  But on either end of that surrealistic nostalgic interruption, Nicole Holofcener’s direction and writing provide a charming and enlightening story about the difficulties of making shared happiness work.  At its best, Enough Said is understanding, wise, forgiving.  And at its less-than-best, it is still very amusing.  Holofcener pokes fun of her characters (and their lifestyles) with a patience and compassion that few modern directors seem to understand. 

A Fitting Farewell:  There is an unexpected softness to Gandolfini’s performance, intensified by the unavoidable and constant awareness that this will be one of his last roles.  Many have been quick to describe the late actor’s turn here as one that exhibits “an unseen side” of his considerable talent.  That is not true.  Gandolfini has displayed this sort of vulnerable and accessible sweetness before, to great effect, in both Where the Wild Things Are and the undervalued The Mexican.  But, in Enough Said, his pervasive kindness is amplified.  Not just by the context of his passing, but by the subtle superficiality of those around him.  He is here a man of true sincerity unbending to the influence of friends and acquaintances who have made a social art of being insincere.  There is a moment late in the movie, after our central couple has stopped seeing one another, when Eva is caught stopping her car in front of Albert’s house to look into his window.  She gets out of the car to approach and makes an offhanded joke about how she doesn’t always park outside of his house.  “Usually I just drive by” she says.  He replies, “Sometimes I drive by your house, too.”  Where her joke feels rehearsed, scripted, insecure, his response is a small act of large kindness, refreshingly honest, unafraid, and confessional.  Really, just… nice.

Grade: B