Title: Enough Said
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Major Players: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini
Out Of Five? 4
For some years, James Gandolfini struggled to leave the shadow of Tony Soprano. True, he was the General in In The Loop and the CIA Director in Zero Dark Thirty – but his turn in Killing Them Softly was a washed up, drink sodden version of his most famous – and infamous – character.
It’s a sad irony, then, that his penultimate role in Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said sees him a role that would have been hard to imagine – the romantic leading man in a comedy. Even sadder is that it shows just how versatile an actor he was.
Divorced Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) works as a masseuse and is facing the prospect of her teenage daughter moving away to college. At a party, she meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), a poet who becomes a client and then a friend. At the same party, she also meets Albert (Gandolfini) and, slowly, romance blossoms. Until she discovers that Albert is Marianne’s ex-husband …….
This is a smart, funny and needle-sharp comedy, at the heart of which is Nicole Holofcener’s fizzy yet perceptive script. It’s full of witty, often understated one-liners which, on paper, probably looked like nothing. But in the hands of two players of the calibre of Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus, they become an utter joy, full of warmth, humour and heart. The comedy is verbal – there is very little of the physical variety – but it is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.
Eva and Albert look like an odd couple – the large, overweight Albert (she describes his hands as paddles) and the tiny, trim Eva. But verbally they are a perfect match and, while they perhaps don’t look quite right together at the start, the audience soon buys into their relationship and really wants them to make a go of it, especially when they hit the rocks.
The two central performances are a delight, especially Gandolfini. His Albert is eminently likeable, twinkly and emotionally mature, a man who’s comfortable enough in his own skin to still be in his pyjamas when Eva joins him for Sunday brunch. His reason? “I like to be comfortable.” Simples. More than that, Gandolfini has the most superb, split-second comic timing and a wonderful line in wry, almost deadpan humour. Louis-Dreyfus is his ideal sparring partner, although there are times when she overplays the cuteness just a touch. There’s great support, too, from Toni Colette as her therapist friend, who is constantly changing the layout of her furniture, arguing with her husband and complaining about her Hispanic maid.
This is that all-too-rare a creature, a mature comedy that has something thoughtful to say about its themes – aging, empty nesting, starting over and mis-communication.
It’s also a more than fitting tribute to James Gandolfini’s talents as an actor. Hence the two small words “For Jim” in the middle of a black screen before the final credits roll. The Oscars don’t have a category for comedy acting, but the Golden Globes do. What price a posthumous nomination next year? Or more? Place your bets now ………
Enough Said will be screened at the London Film Festival on 12, 13 and 14 October and goes on general release around the UK on Friday, 18 October.