Combustible Celluloid
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With: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Toni Collette, Catherine Keener, Ben Falcone, Toby Huss, Michaela Watkins, Eve Hewson, Amy Landecker, Anjelah Johnson, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Tracey Fairaway, Elizabeth Schmidt, Phillip Brock, Tavi Gevinson, Anoop Viswanathan, Eve Hewson
Written by: Nicole Holofcener
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity
Running Time: 93
Date: 09/27/2013

Enough Said (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Massaging the Situation

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said begins as an awkward, wince-inducing experience, at least for male viewers. It's as if we've accidentally walked into the ladies' loo and overheard some conversations that we really didn't want to hear, or don't care at all about (like rearranging furniture). And as much as those terrific actresses Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Toni Collette, and Catherine Keener appear to want to be laid-back, they make your neck muscles clench up.

Then James Gandolfini walks into the picture, and things settle down into a fine, genuine groove. As it happens, the great Gandolfini passed away, far too soon, this past June, and Enough Said is one of his final feature films. The film definitely has a different vibe than it would have if he were alive, but the fact remains: his performance is so vivid that he brings you a character that feels alive.

Louis-Dreyfus stars as Eva, a Los Angeles masseuse who does door-to-door work. She's divorced and single, and not particularly interested in dating. Her thoughts are more absorbed in her teen daughter, Ellen (Tracey Fairaway), who is about to leave for college. Ellen's best friend Chloe (Tavi Gevinson), who seems lost and hangs around the house a lot, provides a kind of surrogate daughter for Evi's empty nest syndrome.

Meanwhile, Eva goes to a party with her best friend, therapist Sarah (Toni Collette), and Sarah's husband Will (Ben Falcone). There she meets a potential new client, poet Marianne (Catherine Keener). She also meets single Albert (Gandolfini), who is a little on the heavy side, but who seems sweet and who also has a daughter leaving for college. Eva and Albert start dating, and though there are no real fireworks at first, they soon develop a warm affection for each other. Their scenes together are terrific, and save the entire movie.

Unfortunately, there's also a sitcom plot twist -- one that requires Eva to hide behind the shrubbery to avoid an embarrassing moment -- but Holofcener avoids slapstick and gets it out of the way smoothly and quickly, and the repercussions feel real. Gandolfini's handling of the denouncement is so superb you may get tears in your eyes. This is not to punish Louis-Dreyfus, who is a top TV comedienne. It takes her a little while to step up to the material, but she definitely gets there, and becomes a nice match for Gandolfini.

It's interesting to note that Albert works in a television history museum, when this movie features two living examples of TV history, the stars of "The Sopranos" and "Seinfeld." I guess I wish that Enough Said had a little less TV on its mind and a little more cinema. But as it stands I was genuinely moved and won't soon forget these characters.

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