Saturday, October 5, 2013

Enough Said (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Enough Said

Director Nicole Holofcener (Please Give) delivers some sweet yet refreshing goods in "Enough Said" thanks to some solid roles and chemistry. The film stars "The Sopranos" James Gandolfini in his final role and comic Julia Louis-Dreyfus. As a pair, they are smoothly  entertaining and illustrate a friendship-romance with fire, flavor and a pinch of regret.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Eva, a struggling masseuse who invariably second guesses herself and prefers the solitary life. On a whim, she accompanies a friend to an exclusive  party. By chance, she encounters the self-deprecating and casually sloppy Albert, a TV historian (Gandolfini) who possesses a kind of humble and warm version of a De Niro tough guy grin. In contrast to past roles, where Tony Soprano is all storm, noise and intimidation, Albert is soft, disarming and in some scenes, almost reticent. Albert makes his interest known second hand via an acquaintance Will (Ben Falcone) and Eva calls on a lark. Because Albert is such a smooth jokester, Eva grows smitten.

Simultaneously, Eva befriends Marianne (Catherine Keener) a poet and agrees to take her on as a massage client. As fate would have it, Eva becomes equally drawn to Marianne as she is to Albert, excluding romantic desire.

The stumbling block is that Marianne is Albert's ex wife.

Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini play off each other so well that you almost forget you are watching a fictional film. The two actually converse together with energy, compassion and tension and at no point do their roles opt for cheap, easy laughs.

The late Gandolfini shows real grace and understatement in his role here, and although this is unfortunately his last role, it will surely be remembered as one of his best. His interpretation of a suburban guy who is all softness and heart shows versatility with a restraint that is near poetic. Gone is the obnoxious Tony. In his place is a heavy walrus-like lovable man who, through his inimitable smile, tries too hard to be liked. There are shades of the classic "Marty" in this big man unbothered with sophistication. But where Ernest Borgnine was all torment, Gandolfini is Fred Flintstonian cuteness, at least to a point. But fear not. The inclusion of tension, when it does arise, will startle you as well as pull on your heart and the trouble is in keeping with the best of the romantic farces of the 1960s.

Toni Collette also gives a good outing as the well meaning friend who is jangling with inner anxieties and unrealized expectations, saddled with a passive aggressive Ben Falcone.

"Enough Said" is a real character study of a relationship. I would hesitate to label it a comic romance as it feels more like life as it unfolds.

The only slight criticism that I can possibly give (which is actually a credit) is that the narrative moves so quickly with a  brisk and breezy tempo that by the time the screen goes to black, I wished I could have seen more.

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