Enough Said (2013)

Directed by Nicole Holofcener


Enough Said is a romantic comedy about people who have their guard up.  These characters aren’t looking to fall in love like the characters of a typical rom-com.  They’re older and wiser, but sometimes that wisdom morphs into a wall, keeping the world at arm’s length.

Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced mother with a daughter soon to depart for college in the fall.  Albert (James Gandolfini) is a divorced father with a daughter soon to depart for college in the fall.  They meet at a party and strike up a conversation over their shared misery at the prospect of an empty nest.

Eva lets Albert take her out on a date, but she remains hesitant towards him, unsure if they should get involved because she’s been through this before and seen how poorly it can turn out.  At the same party at which she meets Albert, Eva meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), a poet and subsequent client.

While Eva and Albert get to know each other, she confers with her new friend, Marianne, and they share complaints about their ex-husbands.  Eva’s dilemma, she soon learns, is that Marianne’s ex-husband is Albert.  Rather than to tell either of them about this conflict of interest, she keeps it to herself, choosing to listen to Marianne’s complaints as if they are the words of an experienced financial investor.

Why not, she supposes.  It’s better to get all of this stuff out of the way now than to discover it months or years down the line.  As someone who’s been through this before, Eva doesn’t want to waste her time.  Marianne’s rants, though, begin to poison the well, causing even the slightest of Albert’s quirks to set her off.

When Albert and Marianne both discover Eva’s role in the other’s lives, it all falls apart.

Enough Said is a very neat and orderly romantic comedy.  It hits all the familiar beats, complete with the open-eared best friend and eventual break up before the reunion.  It feels like a Nancy Meyers story, made with the grandparent-like wisdom and warmth about characters whose crimes are always understandable and never too severe.  The tone is that of an after school special, in some ways.  We’re being told that yes, these characters do mess up, but they also deserve forgiveness.

It’s a happy ending for an optimistic story that just kind of makes you feel good, even if it never much challenges you.

And damn, I just realized this would be one of my shortest entries if I ended it here, but I don’t know what else to say.  Enough Said is almost boring on the surface and even within the plot movements, but it works because of Dreyfus’ and Gandolfini’s charm.  They’re great together, and the relationship feels realistic, with the distance between them coming from small moments of irritation that we can all relate to.  Though there is an extreme moment near the end that breaks them apart, the real conflict in Eva’s and Albert’s relationship comes from the small things, the things that inevitably add up over time and can make anyone drive you crazy.

Their ability to eventually work through this gives us a sense of optimism.  To use a cliche term, Eva and Albert are old dogs who are learning new tricks.  At its core, I guess Enough Said just tells you it’s never to late to start again.

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