Enough Said (London Film Festival 2013)
As a huge Nicole Holfcener fan, I’ve been following Enough Said for a while, repeatedly refreshing the “Untitled Nicole Holofcener 2013 Project” IMDb page for months before the title was revealed long after post-production. Her films don’t exactly oscillate away from her trademark style, but they carry an inimitable voice that can’t be pinned down to a simple formula; a certain level of quality can be expected from her work.
Anticipation for Enough Said is even higher for its posthumous performance by James Gandolfini, who’s heartbreakingly sweet alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus, with the two leads a natural fit for Holofcener’s witty inflections.
A recurring metaphor appears with Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) lugging her masseuse equipment from her car to clients’ homes, without any help; it reflects her ability to cope as a single mother, which is subsequently a lonely endeavour. At a party, she befriends semi-famous poet Marianne (Catherine Keener), while separately meeting Albert (Gandolfini) and forming a slow romance.
Middle-aged regrets dominate Enough Said, but with charming acceptance. Eva and Albert compare the deteriorating state of individual body parts several times, whether teeth, hands, feet or nose (“it’s just an ornament”). The mutual acceptance is comforting for both characters, who share the experience of being divorced with children ready to leave the nest. For a while, the film’s main pleasure is simply spending time with the two enjoying each other’s company; the chemistry is electric and reminiscence of a warmth I can’t remember in a Holofcener outing since Walking and Talking in 1996.
With an unfortunately contrived twist more appropriate to Seinfeld, Eva discovers Albert is Marianne’s ex-husband (“sorry, but he is a loser”). Rather than say anything, Eva wonders if she will also find similar faults in Albert’s lovable, but stubborn, ways. The unnatural reaction – well, non-reaction – is forgiven through the bittersweet likeability of Holofcener’s script that already establishes its everyday heroes before the twist.
One subplot involving her daughter’s best friend doesn’t quite work (like 2001’s Lovely & Amazing, the multi-generational strands can be hit and miss.) Nonetheless, the ensemble possesses a watchable energy, not least through Eva’s giggly chats with her best friend (Toni Collette). As a further recommendation of tone, it’s worth noting Holofcener’s side-gig is occasionally directing Parks and Recreation, a sitcom with a not too dissimilar vibe.
With another smart, funny female-centric drama, Holofcener’s low-key success reminds me of Broadway Danny Rose, in that it became underrated through its similarities to Woody Allen’s previous work during a remarkably consistent era. The link to Allen is relevant: she entered the industry as an assistant on his films, and is frequently labelled “the female Woody Allen”. However, that’s an unfair and inaccurate term as her sharp dialogue possesses its own rhythm and, perhaps more importantly, she seems to genuinely like her characters – a strength that benefits the viewer, which is, I think, enough said.
Enough Said is part of the London Film Festival’s “Laugh” strand. Screening information can be found here.
United States of America
93 mins approx