Enough Said (Nicole Holofcener, 2013)
It is impossible to watch the new film by writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Lovely and Amazing, Friends with Money) without experiencing, anew, sharp pains of regret at the premature passing of James Gandolfini He is so perfect in his role as a lonely and awkward divorcé, and such a lovely match for the equally wonderful Julia Louis-Dreyfus – herself lonely and divorced here – that one can but wish he had had more time to deliver many more such performances. Sigh.
That said, this is a delightful movie that manages to be both funny and deeply moving – unlike, say, today’s other comedy release, Baggage Claim, which gets funny right, but certainly not poignancy. If you have lost faith in the romcom genre, take heart. Perhaps Holofcener can point the way to a vibrant revival.
Louis-Dreyfus plays divorcée massage therapist Eva, who meets Albert (Gandolfini) at a party at which she also meets his ex-wife, renowned poet Marianne (Holofcener mainstay Catherine Keener). At first unaware of the relationship between the two, Eva begins dating Albert and massaging Marianne. Soon, however, she makes the connection, and find herself unable to confess to either one that she knows the other. The question, for her, becomes whether she can maintain her genuine feelings for Albert while spending time with Marianne, whose sophistication and fame fascinate her, since all Marianne does is say bad things about her ex.
Filling out the universe of the film are friends and daughters (Eva and Albert each have one heading off to college), and a lot of fine writing and acting. Both Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini are masters at emotional conveyance through the gaze alone. Watching Eva look at Albert – loving him in spite of the fact that he is overweight and a slob (by his own admission) – and Albert look at Eva – loving her in spite of her neuroses – is enough to give you renewed hope in the power of love to heal all wounds.
Powerful as it is, the film is also so filled with laughs that at times I couldn’t hear the punch-line follow-up for the raucous sounds of the audience enjoying itself. It’s a perfect date movie. Go see it.