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Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 12:01 am

Stars shine in Enough Said

James Gandolfini as Albert and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Eva in Enough Said.
PHOTOS COURTESY FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES’

 

There’s an air of melancholy that hangs over Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said. Obviously, some of this is due to the untimely passing of James Gandolfini, who delivers one of his most informed performances, pointing toward what could have been a potentially vital second act in his career. However, the movie cuts deeply where matters of the heart and errors in judgment are concerned. The filmmaker’s script is full of sharply realized moments that will speak to anyone in the audience who’s loved neither well nor wisely.

Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a Los Angeles masseuse who has a steady stream of clients and has settled into a routine where her personal life is concerned. She socializes with her close friends (Toni Collette and Ben Falcone), enjoys her home and spends as much time with her daughter (Tracey Fairaway) who’s leaving for college soon. However, while at a posh Beverly Hills party she meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), a poet who she connects with immediately, takes as a client and eventually becomes close friends with. She’s also introduced to Albert (Gandolfini), a good-natured bear of a man who she’s not attracted to but with whom she shares a moment. He gets her number, calls for a date, she agrees to go, they have a pleasant evening and … well, the magic begins.

One of the most charming aspects of the film is watching Eva and Albert fall in like then love. Holofcener has a good ear where it comes to the interactions and dialogue that takes place between two individuals who realize that they see the world in a similar light, have a great deal in common and inexplicably feel at ease with one another. The two leads invest the filmmaker’s dialogue with the appropriate degree of guarded excitement, humorous cynicism and bitter disappointment that lends a sense of intimacy to their scenes that’s all too rare in the movies. There’s an obvious ease between the two performers that spills over into their roles and their chemistry makes the film seem less calculated than the usual romantic comedy.

That being said, Holofcener employs a plot device that would have been acceptable during the heyday of screwball comedies, but will come off as a bit of a reach for modern audiences. To be sure, it’s an odd coincidence to occur in a city the size of Los Angeles but if you think of connections made earlier in the movie, it makes sense. However, in the end, this glitch makes little difference. It’s the McGuffin that allows us to spend time with two charming, recognizable people who will hopefully have the wisdom to see the forest for the trees where their flaws and relationship is concerned.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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