‘Enough Said’ has one of James Gandolfini’s last (great) performances

James Gandolfini co-stars, in his one of his last performances, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Enough Said." Credit: Lacey Terrell
James Gandolfini co-stars, in one of his final performances, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Enough Said.”
Credit: Lacey Terrell

‘Enough Said’
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Stars: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini
Rating: PG-13
3 (out of 5) Globes

Filmmaker Nicole Holofcener (“Lovely & Amazing,” “Please Give”) has carved out a niche as the maker of female-centered dramedies that are deceptively modest, uncommonly insightful and neatly made — often too neat, to be honest. “Enough Said,” her fifth feature, finds her making a somewhat awkward fusion with a more popular genre: the cringe-inducing depiction of stunted adolescence. Like “Bridemaids” and “Frances Ha,” the film’s heroine is in an uneasy, unsettled spot in her life, grappling madly for elusive security.

The difference is she’s middle-age, which make all the difference in the world. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Eva, a long-time divorcee who makes a not-terribly-happy living as a masseuse. She embarks on a courtship both slightly awkward and shockingly smooth with Albert (James Gandolfini), who she meets-cute at a party. They both have daughters bound for college, exes they’re not happy with and an intense self-effacement. At the same time, Eva befriends Marianne (Catherine Keener), a successful poet who engages her services and, due to having too few friends, starts unloading about her dreaded ex — a portly, self-effacing “loser” whose daughter is also bound for college.

That she’s talking about Albert is a shock, not because the secret has been so well kept, but because Holofcener seems like the last filmmaker who would do broad farce. “Enough Said” really does look like a nice middle age romance, and even when it’s revealed that Eva has been listening to Marianne complain at length, and in great detail, about the man she’s newly seeing — and even after Eva starts grilling Marianne for more dirt — it’s not a mere genre exercise. Eva’s actions are borne out of a fear she’ll grow irritated with Albert, as well as a subconscious desire to find a reason to end the relationship before things get too intense.

It could honestly bear to go even further with this idea; the requirements of plot both deepen the film’s look at relationships and hobble it, blocking it from digging deeper. But Holofcener’s observations are as strong as ever, and the acting is predictably peerless. This is one of Gandolfini’s last performances, and it’s one of his strongest: He’s charming, but you can see him trying to hide the hangdog, intransigent tendencies that drove Marianne nuts (and may one day drive Eva nuts, too). Louis-Dreyfus is great, too. A TV star who rarely works in movies, she brings an expert balance: She sells the more comedic aspects of the role while giving her a believability that she’s too infrequently asked to handle. It’s a great dance between two actors who should be, or should have been, in more movies.


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