Directed by Nicole Holofcener. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone. (2013, PG-13, 93 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 27, 2013
A deft portrait artist and consistently independent-minded filmmaker, Nicole Holofcener (Lovely & Amazing, Friends With Money) is the last person you'd expect to get Hollywood-tricksy with plot, but there it is – a twist as contrived as the title is generic. ("Enough Said!" You can practically see Katherine Heigl, arms akimbo, on the movie poster.) That twist, and its implications, almost derail the movie's true achievement: It’s a funny, tender, impactful story of two divorcées, authentically in their early 50s, struggling to trust and love again.
Single parents Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) and Albert (Gandolfini, in one of his last roles) meet at a party and find common ground with their mutually looming empty nests. They go out, and they catch each other's rhythms and dry wit. The relationship progresses. Louis-Dreyfus – a comic actress rightfully lionized for her roles on Seinfeld and Veep – possesses a blinding smile, but she'll break your heart with the quiet confession of a woman worn-out from first dates and false starts: “I’m tired of being funny.” Gandolfini's Albert, a gentle giant in dad jeans, is just as battle-weary; endlessly belittled in his marriage, he wants only to be liked for who he is.
But there's a twist. (The trailer goes there, but still: Consider yourself warned.) At that same party, Eva also meets a poet (Keener) who she then takes on as a massage client, and they become friends. Eva, it turns out, is Albert's ex-wife. That's a twist, but it's not too hard to swallow; these sorts of coincidences happen in real life, especially as the dating pool grows more shallow. The real twist – more like a twist of the knife to the heart – is what Eva does with that information once she pieces together the connection. The film skims over the shock (Holofcener stages it like a pratfall gag) and skips the deliberation altogether: Eva will play dumb and continue seeing them both, even though it is now a conscious betrayal rather than an unfortunate coincidence. The delicate, uncommon picture of middle-aged new love begins mugging, well, like a Katherine Heigl movie.
It's not a catastrophe, because Holofcener is very good at what she does (even when she's doing something that feels so false) and because the cast is so watchable. You can't help but care deeply for these characters – I sobbed my guts out for Eva when her daughter left for college – but it’s hell watching something so deeply winning take a wrong turn and keep bumping its head, trying to find the way out of a dead end.