Starring James Gandolfini, Amanda Louis Dreyfus & Catherine Keener
James Gandolfini’s recent, untimely death looms large over Enough Said. And while it’s not quite his final role, that’ll be in Michael R. Roskam’s Animal Rescue next year, it is the one released closest to the actual loss, when the great actor’s death is still at the forefront of the public consciousness, and in that sense I don’t think there could a better final goodbye than this. This film isn’t ground-breaking, it isn’t miraculous or any kind of masterpiece, but what it does do is allow Gandolfini to play the sweet, thoughtful, kind man that so many interviewers and fellow actors described him as, a person usually hidden behind the dark and violent roles he played. This is probably closer to Gandolfini as he actually was, and finally allowing him to a play a role that allows him to tap into that softness and sensitivity is probably the best goodbye movies could give him.
But Enough Said is in broader terms, an inoffensive, intelligent romantic comedy, with the age skewed upward by about 10 years. It’s a perfectly enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, and has a few good insights about what it means to be a forty or fifty something looking for love and the different kinds of pitfalls and fears that they face,which I as a Twenty-something male, am primed to appreciate. The film follows Eva (Dreyfus), a home-service masseuse, as she embarks on a relationship with Albert (Gandolfini) a man she doesn’t find traditionally attractive, but finds herself charmed and captivated by regardless. The romantic comedy twist comes when Eva takes a new client in Marianne (Keener), who unbeknownst to her happens to be Albert’s ex-wife, full of stories about what a pig her ex-husband was.
As good as Julia Louis Dreyfus was in Seinfeld and is in Veep, I’ve always felt she seemed most at home in more heartfelt comedy like this. While New Adventures Of Old Christine was undoubtedly an inferior show to the two extremely cynical, black-hearted comedies for which Dreyfus has gotten her name and most of her acclaim, she always seemed to be enjoying herself so much more in that sweet, dopey mostly good but occasionally terrible sitcom. In Enough Said, Dreyfus effortlessly slides back into that mode here, making for a perfect female romantic comedy lead. Managing to avoid the tropes that lesser actresses might fall into and being likable and charming fairly effortlessly.
Somewhat inevitably though, it’s Gandolfini who’s performance stands out the most. It’s perhaps lent an extra gravitas by his real life passing, but Gandolfini is actively doing something different here. Movies by and large have struggled to know what to do with Gandolfini, who has seemed reluctant to just play knock-offs of his for the ages performance as Tony Soprano, has struggled to find a niche in movies, with only a couple of performances where he was really able to show what he could do. For me, his work as a soulful gay hitman in the otherwise terrible Brad Pitt/Julia Roberts double header The Mexican and his moving and occasionally terrifying voice-over work in Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are stand as the best, but this is definitely in the top bracket.
The movie assembles a decent supporting cast, Toni Collette, Keener and a deep bench of lesser known but talented American comics Ben Falcone, Jessica St Clair, Michaela Watkins and Chris Smith (AKA The lead in Paranormal Activity 3) but no-one really gets a chance to create an actual character. Collette gets a couple of scenes but mostly just gets to be annoyed that her latino maid isn’t professional enough.
When the film focuses on Dreyfus and Gandolfini, however, it’s extremely solid, and I’d rank this as one of the better romantic comedies of recent years (not that hard), despite it’s shticky set-up. The film feels largely genuine in most of its sentiments and the relationship between the two leads is different enough, sweet without being entirely saccharine enough to make the thing work. I’m a fan of romantic comedies like this, where it feels like we’re actually watching two human beings as opposed to two aliens from the planet Fuck You, acting out their impressions of human beings while awful writers contrive wacky situations for them to be fake in. This was not that, so this was good.