There was always going to be a tinge of sadness felt for the final on-screen performance of James Gandolfini, who passed away earlier this year. Some may even allow this melancholy to taint their view of Nicole Holofcener’s indie rom-com Enough Said (2013). The passing of Gandolfini aside, Holofcener has assembled an impressive cast, including the talents of Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener and a sadly underused Toni Collette. Steering clear of the saccharine tropes typical of the genre, the film examines the love affair between middle-aged masseuse Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) and Gandolfini’s Albert.
Both characters have typically dysfunctional relationships with their children, who are both set to fly the nest for their first semester at college. But wait for the twist: Eva’s new client turns out to be Albert’s ex-wife (Keener), and rather than tell either, she decides to collect information from the one-time-wife of Albert so that she can decide whether it is worth allowing him into her heart. Set in the sun-kissed climes of LA, Enough Said offers gentle, middle-class humour, peppered with acid-tongued bite which rings true to reality. Keener – it transpires – is a poet, Gandolfini is obsessed with the classic TV shows of his youth, whilst Collette struggles with her family life and an irksome housekeeper. It’s all very suburban.
Jokes are made at the expense of Gandolfini’s figure, while Eva and her best bud pick apart his flaws as part of their own neuroses and anxiety. Whilst jokes about the actor’s weight now seem a touch on the raw side, they actually provide some of the more tender moments in Enough Said. Gandolfini’s performance is one of the best of his career, showing a level of tenderness and fragility only rarely glimpsed in award-winning HBO series The Sopranos and other feature film work. Pairing this with Louis-Dreyfus’ well-rehearsed shtick proves fruitful, allowing for a realistic portrayal of a fortysomething relationship in full bloom.
Disappointingly, Collette is used as a mere foil to Louis-Dreyfus’ constant questioning over whether Albert is the man for her, although in such moments Collette undoubtedly shines. The plot unfolds in homely manner, there are no moments of high drama, and it all feels pleasingly familiar. But then there is Marcelo Zarvos’ score, which really does let the whole piece down, intruding like an unwelcome dinner guest at a gathering of friends. Although far from an excellent film, two fine lead performances help to raise Holofcener’s somewhat middling rom-com. Enough said.
The 57th BFI London Film Festival takes place from 9-20 October, 2013. For more of our LFF 2013 coverage, simply follow this link.