Writer/Director Nicole Holofcener makes introspective films with complex characters, and she requires her actors do much of their work communicating through non-verbals. Enough Said bears her stamp through and through, mostly in good ways.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Eva) surprises me, primarily because I didn’t know she is this good an actor. She uses facial expressions and subtle motions to communicate so much about Eva’s inner turmoil and loneliness. 2013 has been a strong year for performances from female leads, but Louis-Dreyfus is on par with the others. Were she to receive award recognition, she would deserve it.
James Gandolfini as Albert is almost Louis-Dreyfus’ equal. He’s assured and funny throughout, and he undersells Albert’s emotion perfectly.
The most important characters are well developed, and the supporting characters have enough depth to be effective.
I love the subtlety with which Holofcener communicates her themes. From Eva’s frantic but marginally skilled knitting to her constant need for feedback from others, Holofcener shows us how easily adults can get stuck in ruts from which we have difficulty freeing ourselves.
I also love how Enough Said fuses romantic comedy and coming of age. It feels like a standard rom com for most of its running time, only to eventually shift to the latter genre. The transition is seamless and probably my favorite part of Holofcener’s direction and screenplay.
The flaws are relatively minor, but they hold the movie back nonetheless. The most significant flaw is probably that Holofcener lets Eva’s attraction to Albert fade a bit too far into the background as she brings Eva’s obsession with Marianne’s (Catherine Keener) input to the forefront. For a good portion of the film’s second half, it feels like Eva has lost interest in Albert altogether and that he has become yet another of her ruts. Perhaps that is exactly what Holofcener wants, but if so the grief Eva feels at Albert’s response to the inevitable revelation feels a bit off. Why is she impacted so fiercely if she doesn’t really like the guy? It might have helped if the second half of the film had included a handful of additional happy moments between Albert and Eva interspersed with the negative ones.
A lesser but still prevalent flaw is the relationship between Marianne and Eva. Their conversations are too tunnel-visioned, too specific to a single topic. In real conversation, people go on more tangents than these two do. To some extent, I understand why Holofcener makes this choice. Eva doesn’t view Marianne as her friend, really; she views her as a source of information, which causes her to focus their dialogue on the topic about which she cares. Even still, I think the conversations should have had more branches into other topics before returning to Albert. It would have made their dialogue feel more natural.
I will end by saying the farewell scene in an airport is one of the sweetest and most touching moments I have seen in a movie in a while. All of the actors, most especially Louis-Dreyfus, perform this scene so brilliantly that they make it even more powerful than the event itself might have rendered it.