The first thing that this unreconstructed Seinfeld fan thought was ‘jeez, hasn’t Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) aged’.
Well yes, she has (haven’t we all), but she’s still lovely, which led to a second inescapable observation – that Enough Said writer/director Nicole Holofcener has provided us with one of the most perceptive and kind-hearted romantic-comedies to come our way since her Friends With Money (2006).
And she has managed to do it without flooding her characters’ dialogue with aggressive, blokey expletives.
Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorcee whose daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) is about to go off to college. Self-employed as a masseuse, she meets poet Marianne (Catherine Keener), who soon after becomes a regular client. Eva is also introduced to Albert (the late James Gandolfini) and, without her knowing that he is Marianne’s ex, they start dating.
The set-up, if purely functional, has countless possibilities for humorous episodes while the prospect of everything blowing up in Eva’s face is ever present.
In accordance with the title, what Holofcener homes in on is how Eva, untrusting of her own instincts, allows her perceptions of Albert to be altered by Marianne’s mean-mouthing recollections of their failed marriage.
A love story featuring a mature-aged couple who don’t look like they have just breezed out of the pages of Who magazine is a rare kettle of fish but, notwithstanding her wrinkles and his baldness, body hair and gut, their first kiss, sitting on his porch, is as sweet and shy as any you’ll see.
Holofcener’s restraint, the quietness with which she deals with what are problems of everyday distress, encourages an empathy that grows deeper with every little faux-pas and misunderstanding – when Albert is hurt by the discovery of Eva’s closeness to Marianne, you can’t help feeling for him, and when Eva sees off Ellen at the airport her sense of loss is heartbreaking for its naturalness.
Toni Colette and Ben Falcone are terrific as Eva’s married friends, while Tavi Gevinson enchants as Chloe, the teenager whom Eva would take under her wing.
Piquant, funny and smart.
~ John Campbell