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Review: Enough Said (2013)

Enough Said (2013)

Directed by: Nicole Holofcener

Premise: A middle aged woman (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) begins a romance with a sweet single father (James Gandolfini) at the same time she befriends a recent divorcee (Catherine Keener). She quickly discovers that her boyfriend is the ex-husband of her new friend.

What Works: Narrative films can generally be divided into two categories: plot-centric and character-centric. Successful stories balance both of these elements but some movies side toward one or the other. Plot driven movies focus on what happens, surprising the audience with the twists and turns of events, while character driven film focus on who and why and usually have thinner or less innovative narratives but more complicated characters and subtext. Enough Said is a character driven story and as that it succeeds because of its clever writing and superior performances. The film is led by Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a middle aged single mother preparing to send her daughter off to college and who becomes involved with a man in a similar situation. Louis-Dreyfus is very good in the role, bringing the mix of awkwardness and sassiness that worked for her in television roles on Seinfeld and Veep. The actress and the script bestow the character with a lot of humanity and reveal a lot of layers through her relationships with others. There is an imbalance to her relationship with her new friend played by Catherine Keener and that imbalance reveals an underplayed desperation about Louis-Dreyfus’ character that manifests in her other relationships. She is also a mother and the relationship she has with her daughter (Tracey Fairaway) and especially with her daughter’s close friend (Tavi Gevinson) demonstrates that same kind of neediness. This is the parent who also wants to be the friend and she gives advice and makes disclosures that aren’t always motherly. The main focus of Enough Said is on the romantic relationship between Louis-Dreyfus’ character and a single father played by James Gandolfini and this is the best part of the film. Gandolfini’s role in Enough Said is among late actor’s last performances and it is a revelation. Because of his work on The Sopranos, Gandolfini is generally associated with violent and criminal characters but in Enough Said he plays against type and does so entirely convincingly. In fact, Gandolfini is often the most sensitive character in the film and when his heart is broken he carries the pathos without heaping on the sentimentality. Enough Said is a movie about the lives divorcees and the process of going through middle age. It does that very successfully and this is a well written film in the way it creates characters, introduces and develops conflicts, and coalesces those characters and conflicts without feeling contrived.

What Doesn’t: The plot of Enough Said follows a predictable romantic comedy format, in which a white lie escalates into a disaster. Anyone can see where the story is going from the set up and like virtually every movie with this structure the plot turns inspire a certain amount of frustration in the viewer, since the solution to the problem—telling the truth—is so obvious and so simple. The filmmakers of Enough Said realize that and tell a familiar story with a great deal of humor and through authentic and nuanced characters. This softens the clichés and imbues the movie with a sense of humanity, highlighting subtler truths beneath the familiarity. Enough Said also tends to look televisual instead of cinematic. Director Nicole Holofcener has primarily worked in television and it often shows in the sitcom-like camera set ups and movie-of-the-week production values.

Bottom Line: Enough Said is a very good motion picture. The story is fairly simple and anyone who has seen the trailer can probably map out exactly where it is going but the performances and the subtle truths about romance and middle age make this worthwhile viewing.

Episode: #465 (November 10, 2013)