Gandolfini, Louis-Dreyfus Charm in ‘Enough Said’
Posted on Sep 23, 2013
By Richard Schickel
The early reviews prepared me to be charmed by “Enough Said,” which naturally made me uncomfortable—experience having long since taught me that charm is not something movies do very well. The effort tends to make them fumble-fingered and too cute by half. Still, with attractive actors (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini, among others) and a good writer-director with a solid track record in the romantic comedy field (Nicole Holofcener)—what did I—or anyone—have to lose in this deal?
Nothing, as it turns out. I was—well, yes—charmed by “Enough Said,” which, among its minor but welcome victories, manages to triumph a not entirely persuasive central premise. The situation is this: Louis-Dreyfus is a masseuse named Eva, perhaps more sexually restless than she knows or cares to admit, who is also confronting the empty nest syndrome—daughter off to college in a few weeks. At a party she meets Albert (Gandolfini), who is low-keyed and agreeable—at least nonthreatening. A perfectly pleasant affair ensues. It turns out that Albert is the former husband of a friend and client of Eva’s (Catherine Keener), who has been ragging on him for as long as Eva has known her. He is perhaps a more difficult case than Eva imagines. Or, then again, perhaps not. Good taste decrees that a breakup must ensue, however. Hope for reconciliation is held out. Because why not? These are nice people, and it would be churlish to deny them happiness in order to obey the dictates of stern reality.
Come to think of it, I’m not at all certain this is a romantic comedy. That’s to say, I don’t recall laughing out loud at any point in the movie. But I did smile a lot during it—pretty much nonstop, truth to tell. I loved the acting: Louis-Dreyfus has always seemed to me a lovely performer, pretty but not overwhelmingly so—and real without seeming to try very hard. And Gandolfini—an actor who will be missed—matches her stride for stride. The main thing about both of them is that they are easy in their roles and with each other—relaxed but never lazy. That is a good phrase to describe the entire movie.
This quality is harder to find and bring off than you’d think. Our comedies these days seem to me either frenzied or flat. Many of the reviews have spoken of this as a well-written movie, and they are right to do so. Yet I can recall no zingers in it. Its language is naturalistic. Its people are not forcing anything. And that’s a huge relief. They are content to be likable. They don’t necessarily want to be lovable. So—you guessed it—that’s exactly what they are. I’m so sorry to think of a world without Gandolfini, that eminently relaxed comic actor. I am so glad that Louis-Dreyfus remains among us. I hope she will find one or two more films as genial as this one to light our weary way.
Fox Searchlight Pictures