Having established himself a the go-to mafioso and tough guy type, it’s easy to forget that James Gandolfini has a quality funny bone. Writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Please Give; Friends With Money) is one person who hasn’t let that facet slip and puts it to good use in her new film Enough Said. Paired with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Los Angeles divorcees each with a lone daughter about to fly off to an East Coast college, it’s fun to watch Elaine Benes and Tony Soprano make cute. The film may not be all that substantial content-wise and concludes without much staying quality, but in the moment there are plenty of heartfelt laughs, and that’s really all that matters.
Starting off strong, Holofcener sets a quirky yet naturalistic tone while following masseuse Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) on her trips around town. Along with the physical toll of lugging her bulky padded table, which barely fits in her Prius and always seems on the verge of toppling her, the range of her clients’ bizarre behaviors and her dry professional responses paint her as an appealing everywoman. That personality clicks almost instantly with TV librarian Albert (Gandolfini), himself an amusing everyman, when they meet at a party. Bonding over keen observations on life’s little details, the two solidify their bond after a few lovely dates and play exceedingly well off one another.
As their mutual comfort grows, such humorous scenes arise as the pair examining and commenting on one another’s molars and Albert’s joyful recollection of his childhood TV obsession, including a self-comparison of his young days watching the tube in a dark room to the life of veal. Through these endearing tidbits and the passion it inspires, Enough Said comes off as highly romantic and also honest in its depiction of love among divorcees. In their respective circles of friends, everyone seems to have at least one ex, and while some have found luck with new partners, the lingering melancholia of those still alone resonates softly and sadly. Add to that Eva’s best friend Sarah (Toni Collette, her natural Australian accent in full glorious bloom) and her controlling husband Will (Ben Falcone), whose bickering suggests they may soon be joining the club, and Holofcener suddenly stands as one of our more perceptive filmmakers when it comes to modern adult relationships.
In terms of plot, however, Enough Said flounders here and there. Intended as a shocking revelation, the central coincidence involving Eva’s new client Marianne (Catherine Keener) is telegraphed fairly early, but is still mainly effective. Unanswered questions also arise in regard to the film’s young women, namely where Eva’s daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) goes that keeps her away from home almost all the time. Her inability to fully recall what she ate the previous day and where she acquired a mysterious banana suggests a potential eating disorder, but that path isn’t explored. Neither is the reason why her friend Chloe (Tavi Gevinson) is constantly at Eva’s house or what her home life entails.
Though these interesting yet flimsy side stories detract from the film’s core appeal, the Louis-Dreyfus/Gandolfini chemistry holds it all together. Still, as enjoyable as they are, their accomplishment brings with it a twinge of gloom. Never again will we see such a performance from the late Gandolfini, whose comedic gifts are at their best here and feel primed for further exploration.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity.