Thursday, 24 October 2013

Enough Said

**** 
In this her fifth feature, writer and director Nicole Holofcener brings us a good-humoured and extremely likeable tale of a couple and their surrounding relationships. This is not to say it’s a rose-tinted view. The darker and more unpleasant aspects of love are also explored but its general mood is one of tenderness and warmth.

Eva (Julia-Louis-Dreyfuss) is a single parent who is dreading the imminent departure of her teenage daughter, when she starts college. Eva works as a masseuse on the Westside of Los Angeles. At a party, she meets two people separately – poet Marianne (Catherine Keener) and Albert (James Gandolfini) whose daughter, similarly, is soon leaving for college. Eva takes Marianne on as a client and they quickly become friends. Eva starts dating Albert and that look promising. She then soon discovers that Marianne and Albert were previously married.

Enough Said explores a number of scenarios in modern family life – at least some of which will undoubtedly be familiar to audiences. It's deals with them sweetly but without being syrupy. It brilliantly captures the nuance of relationship interactions, good and bad. Moments of intimacy are played with an easy naturalism by a first-rate cast making it simultaneously funny and realistic. There are some big laughs to be had and all in a very smart vein. The combination of writing, direction and delivery of lines result in a perfect storm of comedy.

The performances are impeccable. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss displays comic chops that we all knew she had. Further than that, she breathes dramatic life into her character, making Eva a lot more than just a conduit for jokes. This is James Gandolfini’s penultimate screen appearance. While Tony Soprano had a soft side (brilliantly displayed by the late actor) he always remained the sociopath. Here, Gandolfini plays a straightforwardly nice guy (not without faults, mind) and it’s a lovely performance. The two leads share a nice chemistry. Solid support is given by Toni Collette, Ben Falcone and all the younger cast members, notably newcomer (and internet fashion guru) Tavi Gevinson. The surrounding ties make for a fascinating watch. Eva’s close relationship with her daughter’s best friend Chloe (Gevinson) is a quirky side story.

The good and bad in people is put under scrutiny here. The imperfection of humans, and the messiness of their relationships, certainly makes entertaining viewing and is almost celebrated. The film has a gentle charm. It also has a lot of heart. Enough Said feels like bona fide auteurism. Nicole Holofcener clearly possesses a supreme knowledge of the characters/scenarios and her script-to-screen execution is beautifully realised.





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