Film Review – Enough Said
Julia Louis-Dreyfus shows why she is a leading lady no matter what the medium in Enough Said, a thoughtful and funny film about navigating life, love, and kids growing up. The easy way to do this kind of film about older people dating would be to throw in some age jokes, play up the characters’ issues like losing children to college as over the top, and call it a day. Instead, this film actually looks at these problems with seriousness, while never forgetting to be funny and to treat its characters with respect.
Eva (Louis-Dreyfus), a divorced mother and professional masseuse, is trying to get used to the idea of her daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) moving away to college. While out with friends, she meets two people who end up affecting her life. One is Marianne (Catherine Keener), a divorced poet who becomes a massage client and a friend with whom Eva can share stories about exes and being middle-aged. The other is Albert (James Gandolfini), a divorced dad who is interested in Eva after an awkward but cute conversation.
Eva and Albert bond over being middle-aged, dealing with divorce, and their children leaving. The chemistry between them is very believable; they joke together nicely about their lives, including their quirks and what their exes hated about them. They also share in some of the potential loneliness they will have when their children go away to college. While Eva and Albert start to develop a real relationship, Eva discovers that Albert is Marianne’s ex, and that she is learning all the things that could make Albert not such a great match.
While this premise sounds like typical romantic comedy convolution, it is brought about very naturally. Eva meeting both of them comes out of the randomness of life, and we see why she is interested in both these people as the film lets us see her spending time with them. When she does find out about the connection, her decisions to not say anything also are clear. She has been through a marriage where she and her ex found things they couldn’t stand about each other, and here is a way for her to see if the things that drove Marianne nuts will affect her. It may not be the right thing, and, as expected, it hurts things with Albert, but it is understandable.
Eva’s character works because Louis-Dreyfus does a very good job of never going over the top. She can be goofy and uses her face to get some great expressions. She has some good one-liners and very good banter with Gandolfini, but she never becomes a cartoon character. She is simply a woman who is kind of funny and trying to figure out relationships. When she is serious and complaining, she feels just as real and interesting as when she is funny. She is the center of everything that happens, and is one of the main reasons the film works.
Besides this central relationship, the film finds time to touch on Eva’s relationship with Ellen and how Ellen’s friend Chloe (Tavi Gevinson) is starting to treat Eva like her own mother. Chloe’s mother appears to be more interested in being young, and Eva wants someone to mother and bond with, so it just happens, and again, feels natural. They even seem to be helping each other.
We also see the potential marriage implosion of Eva’s friend Sarah (Toni Collette) and her husband Will (Ben Falcone) as they bicker and make comments about what their future spouses will be like. They have issues that could cause them to divorce, or at least lead to the need for better communication. What it shows is that no relationship is perfect, and the theme of finding what one is willing to deal with is the center of this movie.
Director and screenwriter Nicole Holofcener does a great job of managing all her characters and putting these situations seamlessly together. Nothing feels out of place or like it needs to be cut. She has a good sense of the balance needed between being funny and serious, bringing in the cringe-worthy moments of relationship trouble, but never going over into complete cynicism. She keeps the realism of relationships at the film’s center and uses her actors perfectly. None of the subplots are superfluous. They fit into the central themes of finding someone later in life and dealing with children growing up.
There is really nothing bad to say about this movie. The cast is great, with Louis-Dreyfus at the center keeping everything moving. Holofcencer knows when to move between her characters and gives them just enough time to get their part of the story across, giving the movie a full vision. It is also funny, heartfelt, and comes from a place that knows the issues of getting older and dealing with life. It never makes it seem easy, but shows that there can still be positive results.