Enough Said is not a flashy piece of cinema designed to captivate and intrigue. Nor is it the type of movie where actors are given a lot of room to chew the furniture and hit all those notes. It does not adhere to a certain philosophy of cinema like a Dogme 95 film. It is not designed for any particular demographic or have an agenda, political or commercial. It is about watching people go through the trials and tribulations of life. Nothing more and nothing less. Enough Said is the perfect example of the “nothing’s easy” phrase. Why should it be? No matter how hard we try, life is anything but fair.
The movie centers around Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a single mother and massage therapist. As a masseur, her job is to go from house to house, person to person, making them feel better, often listening to their problems like a bartender while releasing the tension in their lumbar. As a mother, her life is in service to her only child. This is not specifically stated in the movie, but that is what mothers do. However, it is important to keep this in mind because her daughter is leaving for college, and Eva doesn’t know what to do with herself. “I guess I’ll have to get a hobby,” she whines. Her hobby could be knitting, or maybe she’ll take up something else, but the kind of hobby she really wants is the kind of hobby that really wants her too, companionship.
The companionship that has sought out Eva is Albert (James Gandolfini), he too has a daughter that is off to college, and has also been divorced for a while. Eva and Albert hit it off at first, but considering that both of them are middle-aged and divorced, they approach love and relationships not with puppy-dog eyes but with critical ones. They both have faults, but a connection is starting to overshadow all of that. Dare they say that they might just be… falling in love?
But, nothing’s easy. One of Eva’s clients, Marianne (Catherine Keener) goes on an on about how horrific her recent marriage was and her ex-husband. Eva listens, she always listens, but when she finds out that Marianne was married to Albert, she suddenly listens with new interest. Is it possible to avoid a long and painful relationship if she gets all the dirt up-front from the ex? Not a good idea. Eva allows her relationship with Albert, and her relationships in general to be poisoned. Why doesn’t Eva tell Marianne that she is now dating Albert? Because Eva lives in service of others. One of her clients, a young man, lives at the top of a grueling flight of stairs, no easy place to lug a large massage table up. Eva can’t bring herself to ask this man for help, let alone disappoint her new client. Or her boyfriend, or her daughter, or her daughter’s friend, or anybody. Of course, she does just that, she disappoints everyone, especially herself.
Writer/director Nicole Holofcener has had a good track record with these types of movies (especially casting Catherine Keener in all of them). She does not judge her characters, and I am thankful for that. Some of them are down right snotty and deserve a good dressing down, but life isn’t fair. She always manages to coax honest and easy-going performances out of her actors. Julia-Louise Dreyfus and James Gandolfini are wonderful. Dreyfus is not only funny in her first leading role, she has managed to take all of her big gestures and antics that made Elaine on Seinfeld so popular, and distill them into looks and glances. One shot holds on her face long enough to watch the phony smile drop, a lovely little touch. Gandolfini is as good as he always was (the movie is dedicated to him), and I think it is because few actors were as comfortable in front of a camera as he was. Gandolfini moves through the movie with ease and grace, casually delivering his lines as if he thought them up himself. Enough Said will probably gain a lot more attention because it was the last performance of Gandolfini, and that is fine, it is a very good performance. It is the perfect movie to come and say goodbye to a very good American actor, and hello to a new leading lady.