“Enough Said”
We “Baby Boomers” do not often find a warm, touching, funny romantic comedy for people “our age,” much less one that takes both male and female characters seriously. The poignancy of “Enough Said” is sharpened by the recent death of the male lead, James Gandolfini. So the implied message here about “Life is short, better reach for all the happiness you can while you can” becomes even more urgent.
James Gandolfini was not known as a comic actor, but he’s really believable as Albert, the middle-aged divorcee with the daughter about to leave for college. It’s been several years since the divorce---enough time to have attempted, anyway, to “get back out there”---but he really hasn’t even tried. He hasn’t met the right person.
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorcee, as well, also with a daughter about to go to college. But there the similarities end. Eva is a busy masseuse who makes house calls, and interacts with people all day long, and in her spare time is often socializing with her friends, Will (Ben Falcone) and Sarah (Toni Collette), who have two small children, but they’re pretty much invisible in this movie. This is about “mature” adult relationships, including the one that are messy, like with exes and their new spouses, with single parent/late teenager tensions thrown in for good measure.
Director and Writer Nicole Holofcener has created an almost-classic chick-flick kind of movie where it’s all about the female characters, but at least her male characters are not entirely unsympathetic. Albert admits he’s a slob. He’s kinda set in his ways. He works as an archivist for old television shows, where people can come and look at, say, Benny Goodman, or Mighty Mouse cartoons. He’s gentle with his daughter, and of course has difficulty seeing her faults (she’s uncomfortably snooty). And he won’t have his “ex” bashed in his presence, either, though, as it turns out, she has plenty of criticism about him.
Yes, the plot twist, which they give away in the trailers, is that Eva’s new client is none other than Albert’s ex, Marianne (Catherine Keener). But it takes Eva a while to realize that---so long, in fact, that she starts to play with that knowledge a little bit, and test some of Marianne’s pet peeves to see if she’s missing something. Once Albert finds out, of course, he resents being manipulated like that. Eva doesn’t really have an excuse. She should have been honest and wasn’t. But how do you move on after you mess up?
Even Eva’s ex is not portrayed as a monster, and they share a genuine sorrow together over seeing their daughter off at the airport on her first trip to college. (They realize, rightly, that their relationship with her will never be the same again, and neither will she.)
What’s enjoyable about “Enough Said” is the sense of humor throughout, which keeps it from playing as heavy as it sounds. These lead Eva and Albert are just likeable, despite their flaws, and yes, we root for them as individuals, and for their halting romance.
It’s just too bad there can’t be any sequels. But then, part of the point here is that we don’t get nearly as many second chances as we like to think.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas