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ENOUGH SAID (director/writer: Nicole Holofcener; cinematographer: Xavier Grobet; editor: Robert Frazen; music: Marcelo Zarvos; cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Eva), James Gandolfini (Albert), Catherine Keener (Marianne), Toni Collette (Sarah), Tavi Gevinson (Chloe), Ben Falcone (Will), Tracey Fairaway (Ellen), Eve Hewson (Tess), Toby Huss (Peter), Michaela Watkins (Hilary), Anjelah Johnson-Reyes(Cathy, maid), Ivy Strohmaier (Maddy); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Anthony Bregman/Stefanie Azpiazu; Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2013)
The poignant relationship story is a gem.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A gentle, clever, insightful, well-acted and sincere socially observant mature relationship rom-com by talented writer-director Nicole Holofcener (“Please Give”/”Friends With Money”/”Lovely & Amazing”), who began her movie career as one of Woody Allen’s behind the scenes creative types. The bittersweet romancer has a talented cast, who handle the simple sitcom material with great skill and bring it to life as a wonderfully accessible sophisticated film with riffs about divorce, aging, the nuances of female friendships and even the difficulties of firing a maid (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes) whose work is not up to speed (that problem is one for the heroine’s yuppie neighbors delightfully played by Toni Collette and Ben Falcone). James Gandolfini, acting in a different area code from his well-known hard-boiled Tony Soprano character, turns in a superb warm and fuzzy performance as a lovable loser, in his penultimate role before his untimely death. The poignant relationship story is a gem, as it magically makes the most of its cutesy plot it builds its story around and pleasingly connects with a wide audience who might have run into such a similar problem.

It’s set in the comforts of upper-middle class southern California. At a party the droll-humored middle-aged divorced Albert (James Gandolfini), an obese academic who is the historical librarian for a television museum library, meets the energetic analytical plain-looking middle-aged divorcee Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Both Albert and Eva are a bit uptight about dating and sending their daughters off to out-of-town colleges, and though both are not initially attracted to each other soon find it easy to have conversations and thereby cement the relationship by going to bed. The two are emotionally needy and wary about being hurt. Albert faces his flaws with self-deprecating wit, while Eva, acting as Holofcener’ alter ego, offers wry comical asides that hide her painful innerself-awareness of the truth. Eva is fearful of letting her sweet only daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) go to NYC’s Sarah Lawrence and mostly fears living alone, while the sensitive Albert tries his best to placate his spoiled and snobby daughter Tess (Eve Hewson) so they can maintain a good relationship. Eva is a hard working masseuse, who unbeknownst to her at the time coincidentally met at the party Albert’s ex-wife Marianne (Catherine Keener), a well-connected, materialistic one time bohemian and successful published poet stylishly living the good life. Marianne becomes Eva’s client and friend. When Eva eventually learns that the confidante she looks up to is Albert’s ex and that she can’t stand him, calling him a slob and a clown in bed, this poisons her feelings for someone she was becoming fond of after building a profile on his pros and cons. The new intel on Albert sends her relationship with the bearded one into a tailspin and her life goes bonkers.

“Enough Said” freaks us out for awhile showing how tough it is to find our mojo, raise children, relate to others with an open mind and deal with scary ordinary life situations. In an impactful emotional closing scene it tells us that we all have the capacity of finding our own way out of jams and if we stumble along the way we must find the courage to forgive ourselves and others so we can continue our journey more clear-headed. Though the pic stumbles through a few contrived subplots (especially the one that has Eva taking on her daughter’s sweet but needy friend (Tavi Gevinson) as a replacement daughter for her soon to be empty nest), it recovers and stands out as one of the better made perceptive relationship comedies.

REVIEWED ON 10/26/2013 GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”