Susan Granger’s review of “Enough Said” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Writer/director Nicole Holofcener (“Friends With Money,” “Please Give”) examines the pitfalls of middle-age romance as vulnerable, emotionally conflicted, single parents cope with the ‘empty nest’ in this dramatic comedy, the second-to-last movie made by the late James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”), who died of a heart attack in June at age 51.
Energetic Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a massage therapist who totes her bulky table around West Los Angeles, making house calls. She’s divorced and bemoaning the fact that her beloved teenage daughter (Tracey Fairaway) is departing to enroll at Sarah Lawrence College. At a cocktail party, Eva meets two pivotal people: Marianne (Catherine Keener), a cool, chic, yet condescending poet, and Albert (Gandolfini), an easygoing, down-to-earth divorced father whose daughter (Eve Hewson) is heading to Manhattan to study fashion design. Eva soon becomes Marianne’s confidante, dutifully listening to her bitter litany of complaints about her former husband, and Albert’s girl-friend before she realizes that Marianne is Albert’s ex-wife. Deceptions abound because she doesn’t tell either one of them. Plus, there are subplots that intertwine Eva’s daughter’s confused best-friend (Tavi Gevinson) and Eva’s BFF (Toni Collette), a shallow, self-absorbed therapist riddled with her own issues.
Under Nicole Holofcener’s guidance, James Gandolfini delivers a sympathetic, self-deprecating performance, capturing the sensitive nuances of a dedicated TV historian who truly loves his job yet tenderly yearns for someone he can love. In contrast, Julia Louis-Dreyfus all too often relies on facial grimaces and sit-com timing, artificial quirks quite familiar from her work on “Seinfeld” and “Veep,” while playing a sassy, savvy woman who says and does stupid things. And that, in turn, makes the pacing uneven.
It’s also unavoidable not to wince with sorrow as Gandolfini gobbles guacamole and a tub of buttered popcorn, noting, “I’m planning on losing some weight. I really need to.” Gandolfini’s final film, “Animal Rescue,” is set for release next year.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Enough Said” is a contrived yet sincere7, an insightful, wryly amusing social commentary about compatibility and contemporary suburban anxiety.