Eva is a single mother facing down an empty nest as her only child prepares to leave for college. Her life receives a lift when she meets both a potential new suitor and a possible new best friend. Unfortunately a tangled web threatens her happiness, relationships, and peace of mind. Meanwhile Eva struggles to prevail, even as she actively participates in creating her own unhappiness.
The movie follows Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a divorced single mom whose life is at a crossroads. By day she’s a massage therapist who seems to teeter between enjoying her profession while simultaneously verging on burnout after years of serving demanding clients. By night she’s a somewhat lonely woman who’s having a hard time letting her college-bound daughter (Tracey Fairaway as Ellen) transition to greater independence. As Ellen begins the necessary act of pushing her mother away, Eva starts to lean hard on Ellen’s ever-present pal, Chloe (played by teen phenom/fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, who’s had Vogue’s Anna Wintour on speed dial since the age of 11), as well as Eva’s best friend Sarah (the always fabulous Toni Collette).
Eva’s stasis is broken when she attends a swanky party with Sarah and Sarah’s husband (the hilarious Ben Falcone as Will), where she meets two people capable of catapulting her out of her rut. The first is a composed and exotic poet, Marianne (Catherine Keener). Eva, often ruffled and somewhat flakey, is immediately drawn to Marianne’s sleek persona. She’s next introduced to Albert (James Gandolfini) who initially doesn’t resonate with her as deeply. The two have a laugh over not finding one another attractive, yet soon agree to meet for a date. Things get complicated when Eva realizes Marianne and Albert have more in common than she could’ve ever dreamed and is soon struggling to decide whom she should keep in her life.
Lovely and amazing. (Yes, that’s the title to another Holofcener flick, but it fits this couple perfectly.)
Though talented writer/director Nicole Holofcener gets a toast for her nuanced script, the real coup is the cast itself, most notably James Gandolfini (of course). Even while playing a sweetly restrained role, he still towers over the other actors. It causes both comfort and heartache to see the recently deceased and much-missed Gandolfini on the big screen looking so vibrant. His turn as Albert is as far removed as he could get from Tony Soprano, and he looks like he loved every minute of it. It will make audience members yearn for more, while also feeling grateful that he exited on such a graceful note.
Beer Two[I don’t believe the following is a spoiler, as it seems pretty evident from the trailer – but proceed with caution if you want to be totally surprised.]
This film is just a sip away from earning the rating of a solid toast. The real critique lies in Catherine Keener’s character as a plot twist. Keener is a gifted actress, but I’m personally confused at how Holofcener chose to portray her. To me, Marianne came across as pretentious, cold, and uninviting. I didn’t really see the connection between her and Eva – much less to the point that Eva would be willing to jeopardize her blossoming romance with Albert. I get the temptation Eva felt to fish for information long after she should’ve left the situation with Marianne – but to start treating Albert shoddily based on Marianne’s shrewish assessments truly baffled me. It felt like the one false note in an otherwise strong offering.
Remind me again why I’m supposed to choose you over Albert?
The film is marketed as a rom-com, but instead of slapstick farce viewers are treated to a layered commentary on relationships and complicated dynamics. A romantic comedy can entertain for a few hours. Holofcener deftly ensures that Enough Said will keep you thinking long after you’ve left the theater.
Take a Drink: every time Eva has to lug her massage table up the steep stairs to an oblivious client’s apartment.
Take a Drink: every time Chloe unwittingly usurps Eva’s attention away from Ellen.
Take a Drink: every time Marianne complains about her ex-husband.
Take a Drink: every time Albert does something endearing.
Take a Drink: every time Eva does something cringe-worthy and you root for her anyway. (Or get mad at her. She’s really a jerk at some points.)
No additional scenes, just more tears for James Gandolfini – all that was, and all that could’ve been.