“Holofcener Has a Lot to Say”

“Enough Said”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini
Directed by Nicole Holofcener

If the title “Enough Said” is a little misleading, it’s only because the fifth film written and directed by Nicole Holofcener sure has a lot to say. It also represents a series of firsts, and in some very important ways.

For starters, it’s Holofcener’s first movie to be centered on one relationship, rather than the sprawling multi-character ensembles that have defined her previous Woody Allen-inspired efforts: 1996’s “Walking and Talking,” 2001’s “Lovely and Amazing,” 2006’s “Friends with Money” and 2010’s “Please Give.” As a result, “Enough Said” is her most rewarding, emotionally effective and fully-realized film to date, since she follows the arc of that relationship all the way through to its profound conclusion.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Eva, a massage therapist and divorced mother who’s about to face empty nest syndrome when her daughter ships off to college in the fall. As hard as it is to believe, it’s Louis-Dreyfus’ first time headlining a feature film – especially one where she commands every single scene – and the TV comedy legend (“Seinfeld,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine”) and four-time Emmy winner (most recently crowned for her lead performance as Selina Meyer in “Veep”) is such a revelation that it feels like we’re watching her talents unfold for the very first time.

Also a revelation is the late great James Gandolfini, who plays against type and proves to be remarkably effective as a romantic leading man. It’s sadly the only time we’ll ever get to see the Emmy-winner best known as Tony Soprano play such a sweetheart, since he passed away from a sudden heart attack last June. But that’s what makes his performance as Albert – also a divorced parent with a college-bound daughter – all the more heartbreaking, since he deftly balances his turn with equal amounts of gentleness, humor and endearing vulnerability.

But more than anything, “Enough Said” is a romantic comedy for grown-ups, and it’s the best one to hit theaters in many, many years. That’s because it’s well-written and deals with mature themes in honest, awkward, delightful, touching and refreshing ways while also being very funny. After Eva and Albert meet and bond over their shared situations, complications ensue when Eva discovers that her newest client, Marianne (played by longtime Holofcener collaborator Catherine Keener), is Albert’s ex-wife. She complains incessantly about Albert, which in turn causes Eva to subconsciously sabotage her own relationship by picking on him (and often in public).

But despite drawing attention to his shortcomings, Louis-Dreyfus remains sympathetic, because she plays Eva like a real person who, like many of us, is also a good person who just makes bad decisions from time to time. It happens to the best of us, but it’s never too late for her to redeem herself, which she does just in time to make the movie resonate long after the credits roll. And that, among other things, is why Holofcener’s fifth feature film one of the very best movies of the year. Enough said, indeed.

-Scott Mantz