Writer/director Nicole Holofcener perfected the sort of quirky and hilarious ensemble pieces centered on characters plagued by “liberal guilt” (to quote on of her producers) she had specialized in for a decade when she made 2006’s Friends With Money. It’s a film I’ve seen countless times, took a number of pals to see in the theater, and that inspired me to revisit her prior filmography anew. Her next feature, 2009’s Please Give, retained much of the humor and charm of her previous pictures, not to mention star Catherine Keener, but ultimately lacked the depth of Friends with Money, particularly where complexity of characters was concerned. Each character had their one defining quirk and appeared to have little life outside of that sole obsession, and upset though I was to admit it, I walked away from the picture somewhat disenchanted with the Holofcener ensemble piece. That is, of course, except for Friends with Money, which would have easily found a place among my top 100 favorite films of all time a week ago.
But then I saw Holofcener’s latest picture, Enough Said (2013). In Enough Said, Holofcener determined to abandon the ensemble format and focus instead on a single character: Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Eva. In doing so, she’s crafted the strongest, most moving picture of her career. In it, divorcee Eva meets self-confessed slob and fellow divorcee, Albert (the late James Gandolfini), and falls for him in spite of herself. Their relationship blossoms quickly and it soon dawns on her that if she could someday wind up hurt and divorced once again if they go any further. So she fixates on his faults and nitpicks his every action in an attempt to prevent that from happening (and I won’t give away any more than that), and in this, the film speaks to the overwhelming fear of heartache that can keep a person from giving in to love in the first place.
Following a single character as Holofcener does here results in a more intimately emotional journey than she had ever constructed before. It’s “heartwarming” and “funny” to be sure, but mostly I’m struck by how honest the film is about those nagging doubts that can sabotage our happiness, and how Eva is simultaneously more likeable and flawed than perhaps any other major character in a Holofcener film to date. And Louis-Dreyfus acts the hell out of the part with backing of a terrific supporting cast including Catherine Keener (of course), Toni Collette, and Ben Falcone. This was also one of James Gandolfini’s final performances, and it will forever stand as a testament to the great talent that was lost to the world when he left it. So natural is he in front of the screen here that it’s almost difficult in fact to call this a performance. The film is dedicated to his memory, and it’s a fitting tribute to be sure.
Enough Said is now available from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ray features an exclusive gag reel, a series of promotional featurettes, and the theatrical trailer by way of special features.