Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Movie Review: "Enough Said"
Eva (a less quirky Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a masseuse. She spends much of her time listening to her clients without talking, and that passivity translates to her personal life as wellwhile she's sad about her daughter Ellen leaving for college, she can't seem to put her feelings into words. While she certainly doesn't lack for opinions, she's more willing to play peacemaker than create or add to any tensions around her.
At a party she attends with her somewhat-unhappily-married friends (Toni Collette and Ben Falcone), Eva meets two different peopleMarianne (Catherine Keener), a poet interested in Eva's services, and Albert (James Gandolfini), who is more interested in Eva, although their initial repartee proves somewhat awkward. But when Albert asks her out on a date, she realizes that she enjoys his company and grows more attracted to him the more time she spends with him. The two share a lot in common, including the fact that they are both anxious about their daughters going across country for college in the fall.
Eva discovers that her newest massage client, Marianne, is a bundle of opinions and complaints, particularly about her ex-husband, whose habits, appearance, and very existence continue to trouble her long after their divorce. Although Marianne is prickly and particular, she and Eva become friends separate from the massages. Yet the more time Eva spends with Marianne, the pieces start to fall into place, and Eva realizes that Marianne's ex-husband, the supposedly slovenly, immature, obese loser, is actually Albert.
A person in their right mind, when put into this situation, would admit the connection she shares with both people. But Eva cannot seem to do this, and although she finds herself truly falling for Albert, she can't tear herself away from hearing all of Marianne's criticisms of him. And then she starts focusing on those foibles Marianne had problems with, to the expense of the good things. In her mind, it's still more effective to learn the bad things before getting more serious.
This is a tremendously funny and sweet movie. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a much more complex character than she usually does on television (but still one who resorts to humor in awkward situations), and her performance proves how gifted of an actress she is, for light drama as well as comedy. James Gandolfini plays a different role than he usually has as well, and is vulnerable, sensitive, funny, insecure, and (dare I say it?) lovable. Catherine Keener has the less sympathetic part, but tears into it with prickly gusto.
There's an underlying bittersweet quality to this movie, as it was Gandolfini's second-to-last movie before his sudden death last summer. Much like The Dark Knight following Heath Ledger's death, every nuance of Gandolfini's performance is magnified because of his loss. One can only wonder whether the success of this movie and the reviews he received would have encouraged him to seek out more vulnerable and sensitive roles in addition to the typical parts he often played.
I enjoyed this movie a great deal. You know you're invested in the characters when you want to smack them so they'll behave the way you want them to. Nicole Holofcener's script and direction are terrific, and the movie will make you feel both happy and sad when it's done, but so glad you've seen it.