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Enough Said

by Leonard Maltin
September 18, 2013 12:00 AM
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Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

As a writer, director, and observer of contemporary life, Nicole Holofcener just keeps getting better and better. Now, in the wake of her perceptive, Manhattan-based Please Give she offers us Enough Said, a Los Angeles-based portrait of a massage therapist (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, in a beautifully nuanced performance) who’s a single mom with a daughter about to leave the nest for college. Louis-Dreyfuss is socially awkward but meets her match at a backyard party: a reticent, bear-like man (the late James Gandolfini) who shares a low-key, self-deprecating sense of humor. They’re comfortable enough with each other, even on a first date, to joke about their own discomfort.

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

How this relationship develops is the marvel of Holofcener’s seamless screenplay and her unerring eye for casting (including a costarring role for her favorite actress, Catherine Keener), even as the story’s focus widens to embrace other characters. Louis-Dreyfuss’ best friend, Toni Collette, is a great sounding board even though she has a notably prickly relationship with her own husband, Ben Falcone. This is fundamentally a comedy, yet every situation has dramatic undercurrents and the possibility of turning serious—even heartbreaking—at a moment’s notice.

A true social satirist, Holofcener revels in the ordinary. Gandolfini lives in a bland, midcentury suburban house where he and Louis-Dreyfuss have a probing conversation on the backdoor stoop. (Who would stage a scene in a set-up like that but an ex-New Yorker?) In the course of telling her central story, the filmmaker manages to deal with such first-world problems as contending with a quixotic housekeeper, lavishing too much attention on your daughter’s best friend, trying to Skype with a gal-pal who’s a psychiatrist with patients waiting for her, and more.

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

I’ve actually heard people grumble that Holofcener is too wrapped up in the lives of affluent characters on both Coasts. I don’t understand the complaint. This is her milieu and she knows it well; that’s why her films play so honestly. Here, she has given Louis-Dreyfuss and the late Gandolfini—who have made such an impact on television—the best roles of their big-screen careers. These are real people who mean well but make unfortunate mistakes…and the actors allow us to see them at their most vulnerable. Louis-Dreyfuss reveals colors and shadings we’ve never seen before, while Gandolfini is irresistibly likable in his least characteristic role. Enough Said makes one mourn his loss all the more.

I love this film and the people in it. It’s a rare instance of a movie I look forward to watching a second time.



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