Let’s Get Reel: Enough Said

Enough Said, directed by Nicole Holofcener, is an incredibly smart, perceptive and realistic romantic comedy portraying the now very common phenomenon of “divorcee dating.” This film also was one of the final films of the recently deceased James Gandolfini (of Sopranos fame).

The film focuses on the protagonist Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a middle-aged masseuse who is divorced and lives with her one daughter. At a dinner party she meets another divorcee Albert (James Gandolfini) and a future customer Marianne (Catherine Keener). Eva slowly begins a romantic relationship with Albert and finds they have many similarities. Both are funny, divorced and about to have their daughters leave for college. At the same time, Eva develops a strong friendship with Marianne, also divorced. Marianne is an artistic, refined poet who spends much of her time with Eva venting about the annoying traits of her ex-husband. Finally, Eva puts two and two together and realizes that Albert is, in fact, the “annoying ex-husband” of Marianne. She continues both her friendship with Marianne and her relationship with Albert for as long as she can, that is, until they both find out.

The first thing that has to be said about this movie is how realistic most of the characters are. Both Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini do an excellent job of portraying what middle-aged courtship is like. That is to say, that dating at that age is even more awkward than when young people try. Both Eva and Albert struggle to please their daughters (and Eva struggles to put up Albert’s daughter as well) and simultaneously maintain a vibrant relationship – not an easy task. The marital troubles that lead to both Albert’s and Eva’s divorces sound like actual problems that would occur in a relationship.

Marianne was driven insane by Albert’s desire to separate the onions from the guacamole and Eva hated how her husband would leave sweets around the house when he knew she would not have self-control. These trivial problems that ballooned into catastrophic fights sound painfully close to what leads to many divorces today.

Another thing Enough Said does excellently is tackle some of the biggest questions surrounding relationships. The biggest question in the film was this: when someone is dating another person who has been divorced, are the problems that led to the first divorce going to carry over to this relationship, or was it merely incompatibility between those two people? At the beginning of the movie, Eva jokingly tells Albert they should both exchange the phone numbers of their ex-spouses so that they can learn all the bad qualities of each other. Later on, through her conversations with Marianne, Eva does in fact learn those poor qualities of Albert and she even begins to become annoyed by them. The movie is pretty ambiguous about the answer to this question, though unfortunately it seems that sociology points to the answer that once one is divorced one time, they are more inclined to do it again.

The movie also tackles the timeless question of accepting your significant other as they are, or trying to change them into a different person. Again, this movie does not give a straightforward answer to this either. One thing this movie does show is that behavior and habits are hard to break. By the end of the film, Eva still acts like Eva and Albert still acts like Albert.

As mentioned earlier, this was one of James Gandolfini’s final films after he passed away in June to a heart attack. It’s eerie to watch this film and know that Gandolfini is no longer living, but the movie is a testament to his strengths. He is smart, natural and effortless in his acting, as always.