An incisive relationship dramedy which cuts into the meat of everyday anxieties with alacritous warmth, Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said brings to bear both of its co-leads sharp comic sensibilities and dramatic vulnerability to produce a compelling cinematic exploration. It seems fitting that James Gandolfini’s penultimate role (his final role is in Michaël R. Roskam’s Animal Rescue, slated for release in 2014) would be one of such emotional honesty, away from the big man’s usual criminal-military character bread and butter. Over and above the inherent interest of seeing such an actor’s concluding works Holofcener’s film is a rare blend of aching vérité and whip-smart humour. Put simply, Enough Said is both one of the finest dramas and one of the finest comedies to grace the screen this year.
The film pivots around the cautious fledgling romance between middle-aged divorcees Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus in cracking form) and Albert (an exquisitely wrought performance by Gandolfini). I purposefully reference both their age and ‘relationship status’ because the film zeroes in on these facets, expertly mining a mother lode of drama and the discomfort comedy to be exploited therein. The film’s comic tenor is reminiscent of Armando Iannucci’s Veep (in which Louis-Dreyfus holds down the title role) sinking the audience into a deep pool of awkwardness and social fumbling for significant periods before coming up for air. We’ve all been in such situations, seen those unfortunate people, BEEN those unfortunate people! Some might argue that many of the scenes feel like comic setups, and there are a few scenes that might well work as stand alone sketches, but where Veep continues ratcheting up its comic tension past the point of acceptable norms Holofcener and co make sure character and relationship development remain front and centre keeping Enough Said from slipping into caricature or slavish devotion to its darker edges.
Thematically the film proves a rich investigation of comings to terms with selfhood, of what it means to love when the flush of youth has long passed, of the complexities of the slowly evolving parent-child relationship, and of what it means to be an adult. These issues are part of the common experience and our cinematic proxies are constructed sensibly and played sensitively. Aesthetically Holofcener and cinematographer Xavier Pérez Grobet have zoomed in on the warts and all beauty of both leads, visually studying their physicality. Wrinkles and weight are both celebrated and fretted over, aches and pains likewise canvassed. This is part of what it is to grow older and it is refreshing to see this kind of warm and honest treatment of the complexly layered agues and advantages of age. In a similar vein Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini’s chemistry has more of ease than of the electricity we’ve become accustomed to seeing portrayed in on screen relationships. Though love may wear different faces as our life experience expands, it nevertheless continues to expose the fragility of our emotional core. This is fine work all round and I am especially glad, in light of Gandolfini’s tragic early passing, that Enough Said has treated us to such a natural feeling dramatic pairing framed in an excellently penned observation of life and love.
Rating: M Offensive language & sexual references.