Wednesday, 13 November 2013
FILM REVIEW: ENOUGH SAID
20th Century Fox Films
Contrary to the popular maxim, some things don't get easier with age. Like dating, specially if you've been out of the game for 20 years, married and raising a child. Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), divorced and about to send her only child off to college, is a little rusty in the art of romance but in writer-director Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said, she receives a bitter-sweet reintroduction to the wonderful yet fraught world of falling love second time around.
Eva, a massage therapist with a small but loyal clientele, hasn't really put herself out there following her divorce, preferring to focus her attentions on her daughter, Ellen (Tracey Fairaway). But with Ellen's departure for college imminent, it's time this mummy got a life; if not a man at least some new friends.
And while at a party with her married friends, Sarah (Toni Collette) and Will (Ben Falcone), Eva achieves both: making conversation with Marianne (Holofcener regular, Catherine Keener), a poet ("oh, you're serious?") who's also in need of a masseuse, and meeting-cute with Albert (James Gandolfini). Actually, the meet isn't all that cute with both having declared they find no-one at the party attractive. Still, a dinner date is arranged (what the hell?) and so begins one of 2013's warmest movie romances.
Not exactly Beauty and the Beast, Eva is dwarfed by the plus-size Albert. But for all his height and girth, beard and growl-like voice (he's incapable of whispering), Gandolfini (in one of his very last screen performances) makes for a gentle giant; a gentleman who wears his heart on his sleeve, whether asking permission for a second date kiss or confessing, however corny, to a broken heart.
And Louis-Dreyfus is equally as wonderful. With a smile that borders on a grimace and a laugh that's not afraid to be loud, Eva is every bit a real middle-aged woman, someone you see all too rarely in film. As much as she wants to be loved, she's no school girl; not prepared to jump in without testing the waters first and always on the look out, if not for the exit sign than for the lifeguard.
And that exit sign may very well be Marianne. It turns out she is Albert's ex-wife, and Eva's new beau is the man she's been hearing nothing but bad reports of every time she visits Marianne for a massage or catch-up. Eva soon puts two-and-two together but she's not so quick to terminate her new client-friendship, even as the litany of Albert's faults, according to Marianne, slowly and not-so subtly begins to poison Eva's relationship with him.
But although constructed on a rom-com conceit, Holofcener is too smart to subscribe to cliche with Enough Said. The laughs aren't forced and they come with the pang of truth. We genuinely care about these two people, thanks in no small part to the wonderfully charming but rough-edged performances of Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini.
And the emotional stakes are high, for them and the audience. We want them to be happy and to be together but unlike your typical rom-com, the ending is not a foregone conclusion.
It may be considered a disservice to label Enough Said a rom-com but that's what it is albeit one for grown-ups, those who know Prince Charming doesn't always come in the perfect package and that happily ever afters are never guaranteed in the real world.