ENOUGH SAID. Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, and Tony Collette. Directed by Nicole Holofcener. Rated M (Infrequent coarse language and sexual references). 93 min.
This is an American romantic comedy about a woman who becomes involved romantically with an ex-spouse of someone she knows.
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is divorced, and her only daughter is about to leave her alone at home. She is naturally cautious about seeking new attachments, but finds herself attracted to a middle-aged man, Albert (James Gandolfini), who was married to a woman she now massages. She finds herself having to face the fact that Albert may have been responsible for destroying someone else's relationship.
The main leads are delightful. Julia Louis-Dreyfus sheds the slight acerbic touch she brought to the popular television series as Elaine in "Seinfeld", and she projects spontaneity and warmth here that are a delight to observe and obviously beguiling to Albert. Albert is sweet, likeable, clumsy and disarmingly good-natured. Eva's life has two problems when her daughter prepares to leave home for College. She knows that her attachment to her daughter is being ruptured, and she doesn't want to risk getting into messy relationships. She finds herself attracted to a man that is a long way from most people's notions of a romantic ideal. Albert is overweight, slovenly, but he is also very nice. He describes himself to Eva as "a normal, organised slob".
As romance blossoms, a massage client of Eva, Marianne (Catherine Keener), reveals unwittingly all the details of why her marriage to Albert came to an end. To Eva, Marianne seems the perfect wife, but she constantly dumps on Albert, and she tells Eva all the things that Albert has done wrong that are now starting to happen to Eva in her life with him. He cooks a good meal, for example, but it is the only thing he can cook well. Eva listens uncomfortably, as Marianne details all of Albert's bad habits and failings. Eva's friend, Sarah (Tony Collette), who is unsettled in her own marriage, also pokes fun at Albert's deficiencies. Eva knows that each of the revelations she now hears about Albert reveals some truths about him, and this starts to affect her relationship with him. Other people's stories are poisoning her attachment to Albert, and Albert comes to realise it.
This film is a sharp and insightful comedy about middle-aged love that is marvellously scripted. It is full of witty remarks and insightful observations, and characters in the film talk about their feelings and anxieties very naturally. Its dialogue is genuinely funny, as the movie works through the complex issues that affect the formation of new relationships.,
The movie is touching, bitter-sweet and charming. Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini (who died shortly after the movie was made and to whom the movie is dedicated) turn the film deftly into a comedy of manners about middle-aged love, American- style, and they deliver the film's insights in a totally unassuming way. Their romance is credible, and there is an engaging quality to the movie that draws the viewer in. We recognise what Albert and Eva are experiencing, and enjoy the recognition.
This is a feel-good movie that is very likeable, and it taps personal experience in meaningful ways. The film perhaps overplays all of the conflict issues that affect Eva and Albert in their relationship, but it is hard not to care about two middle-aged people looking gently for solace and satisfaction with each other.
Peter W Sheehan is associate of the Australian Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Twentieth Century Fox.
Out November 14th 2013.