Enough Said is Holofcener’s fifth feature film, following the accurate desperation of Please Give and the on-the-surface hopelessness of Friends with Money. Those adjectives don’t describe the films, per se, but rather the mentality of the characters living within them. Words I’d use to describe Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), the lead of Enough Said, are blindly content and unknowingly eager. Eva is a private massage therapist living in L.A. who’s dreading the final weeks before her only daughter goes to college. Eva is a lot like the other women in Holofcener’s films, which means she’s happy where she’s at in life, if no other reason than she’s used to it.
If a Nicole Holofcener film relies on just two things, it is strength of character and believability of dialogue. All of her characters speak the way real people actually talk, which can frankly be jarring. People in movies rarely speak how people in real life speak. That’s one thing that makes them movies. But a dinner party scene in a Holofcener film feels eerily close to that fun conversation you had with a group of people at the last party you hosted. They talk openly about their own faults (and the faults of those they know), they interrupt, they let alcohol motivate their loose tongues, and so on.
My point is, I love Holofcener’s writing. I’m a huge admirer of her ability to pull off “real talk” in such a naturalistic way. Problem is, I’ve seen all of her films, and by now, I know what’s coming. I feared this when I saw Please Give a few years ago, and Enough Said has confirmed it: there’s simply no variation in Holofcener’s writing from one film to the next. Or at least not enough to playfully throw me off the story and introduce something I wasn’t expecting.
Don’t get me wrong, the back and forth exchanges between Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini are some of the best Holofcener has ever written. My qualm with the repetitiveness of Holofcener’s films has nothing to do with the actors involved. Gandolfini’s work in particular is poetically heartbreaking. It shows that he had a lot more left in the tank post-Tony Soprano. His Albert is a gentle giant that you want to slap silly and bear hug at the same time. I just wish, as a whole, that the film had a few more surprises in store.
Another important note for those unaware of Holofcener’s style: all of her films more or less hinge on a concept that you have to accept to enjoy. Whether it’s Catherine Keener seriously crushing on an underage Jake Gyllenhaal in Lovely & Amazing, or Keener and Oliver Platt praying that their cranky neighbor will die soon in Please Give, if you don’t buy what Holofcener is selling, then you’ll be bored to tears.
The quirky story arc in Enough Said is that, early into the film, Eva realizes her new friend and client, Marianne (Keener) is actually Albert’s ex wife. Much of the movie centers on the playful notion of Can Eva keep her friendship with Marianne a secret from Albert, and visa versa. As a follower of Holofcener’s work, I unfortunately knew exactly where she was taking the film, but for those new to her world, you should have a whimsical time discovering it for yourself. B