Enough Said – Nicole Holofcener and the wealthy poet. (Film Review)
Nicole Holofcener may not be famous for her deep scripts or fascinating side characters in her films about white middle class angst but the empty vessels of thinly drawn nobodies that orbit Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Albert (James Gandolfini) join in the plot in becoming little more than a distraction from the genuinely interesting story of two early fifty-somethings falling in love. Enough Said is an orgiastic baby boomer fantasy where masseuses, poets and television cultural archivists (not yet having lost their jobs to an internet revolution) drive Audi’s, send their children to expensive liberal arts colleges and are best friends with Joni Mitchel. Their married friends bicker over how to fire the maid and the post feminist females are mindless bimbos who develop hate fetishes over the way a man swills his dip, or doesn’t buy side tables for his bedroom. Considering the era that these people lived in, they seem to have been untouched by the Bhopal or Exxon Valdes disasters, the fall of communism, the rise of second wave feminism or the Regan/Thatcher era. Except for a couple of leather bands on their wrists and a “groovy” relationship with their kids, they seem to have completelyy forgotten the decades that preceded them, floating around their lives in a bubble of abject self obsession. Given one of these people is a poet, and she’s been drawn as a VogueLiving-godess, passionate customer of The Container Store, one almost comes to the conclusion that Holofcener really really really hates poets.
And yet despite all this, at the heart of Enough Said are two delicate, beautiful performances of two intricate characters whose moments of subtle reaching for the other interlaced with the gentle barbs of their self-protection reaches majestic heights, particularly in the case of James Gandolfini whose physical size is only matched by the enormous emotional intelligence of a man with a courageous self-respect. It is genuinely lovely to watch Eva and Albert in their seduction dance marking one of those rare times when cinema’s reflection of life offers maturity that acts as definition for something seen but unvoiced. This seduction happens between all the other brash oddities which end up as unnecessary plot feeders; a more interesting film would have been one that revealed the lovers gentle discovery of each others humanity and their responses to it in the wake of their post-divorce maturity. Unfortunately, this is not meant to be and the result is a film that is saved by these performances or a film that is ruined by the laboured narrative depending on your point of view.
At a party Eva attends “so she doesn’t have to be alone”, she meets Albert and each form an instant interest in the other, despite their declarations of not being attracted to anyone at the party. The same night, Eva meets Marianne (Catherine Keener) and strikes up a strong friendship with her that is largely based on deep admiration for her taste in clothes. When Marianne asks Eva around to give her a massage, the women form a tight bond, Marianne fulfilling a need to have more friends and Eva a bond with a woman she not only likes, but deeply admires. At first Eva and Albert’s dating appears to be moving toward something more substantial, but when Eva discovers the woman she admires repulsive ex husband is the man she is now dating, Eva starts to doubt her own feelings for Albert, judging him through an aesthetic barometer that is not her own.
In the end, Enough Said becomes a battle of seething opposites with its gentle reflections on romance tipping the scale in favour of a characterisation masterpiece, and the offensive surrounding narrative lurching the film back toward a vapid display of white suburban unconsciousness. It’s difficult to recognise its central message: don’t listen to girlfriends? ex wives? instincts? As fingers are overtly wagged at the infamous female capacity for mindless nagging, Gandolphinis “you-know-men-have-feelings-too” performance reaches something beyond Holofcener’s writing. 2013 saw this, and the July Delpy character in Before Midnight push the limits of a script through a great performance, and interestingly both are love stories and both have vulnerability at their core. However in the end, even the great performances can’t save Enough Said from its condescending mediocrity, which burns hard against all that revealed inner charm.