In Praise of Gandolfini's Last Movie, Nicole Holofcener's “Enough Said"


I knew I would love Enough Said.  It had my name written all over it. Besides, it was written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, director ofWalking & Talking, Lovely & Amazing, Friends With Money, and Please Give, four movies I adored. My sister worked on the production of Lovely & Amazing, and I went to the NYC premiere and even met Nicole Holofcener briefly. Her films speak volumes to me and to other women. They’re smart, female-driven stories about flawed individuals like you and me. They're snippets from real life and are completely relatable.

There are so many things to love about this film – from Julia Louise Dreyfus’ departure from Elaine on Seinfeld, the character we most equate her with, Holofcener’s brilliant cast of supporting characters such as Toni Collette and Catherine Keener – one of the director’s staples and an Indie film favorite, an honest look at aging and relationships, and most of all, James Gandolfini.  As soon as he entered the story, my heart sunk, knowing this would be the last time I would see the great actor on screen (although he certainly leaves behind a legacy). Little did he (or we) know when he made this film that he would be delivering his final performance, and it’s stupendous.  It’s a quiet yet revealing portrayal of a man looking for love.  Totally anti-Tony Soprano.  Holofcener is brilliant in her casting choices and this one was no exception, clearly having taken a chance on him in his first romantic comedy.

Julia Louis Dreyfus at Enough Said Premiere
Image: © Sonia Moskowitz/Globe Photos/

For her protagonist, Holofcener chose Dreyfus as Eva, who is in nearly every frame of the film. She’s a divorced masseuse (apparently Holofcener gets massages and got story ideas as a result from her masseuse) in her 50s with a daughter who’s about to leave for college.  She meets Albert (played by Gandolfini) at a party early in the film, when they both declare that they aren’t interested in anyone in the room.  He’s not her typical type, but he also has a near-grown daughter and they have that in common.  So when he asks for her number, and calls her for a date, she's not excited but he’s a nice guy, and her best friend (played by Collette) tells her she has nothing to lose.  At the same party, she meets his ex-wife, Marianne (played by Keener), a poet and free-spirit.  After several massages, the two women become  fast friends…close enough to talk about former relationships and Marianne takes constant digs at her ex-husband.  According to her, he’s fat, bad in bed and boring.  There’s a big reveal about who the ex is and it impacts their friendship in a very big way (Big reveal: Albert is Marianne's ex-husband!). The rest of the movie is spent exploring Eva’s set of morals. Does she come clean to the former couple or not after discovering their connection or does she continue to have her opinions about the man she's falling in love with poisoned?

I always find something in Holofcener’s movies to relate to.  In Please Give, my husband couldn’t believe the comparison between me and Keener’s character, and her desire to give to the poor. She always writes brutally honest about relationships and how people demand to be treated, and her female characters always struggle with the same issues we all struggle with (choices, sex, work, dating, balance, parenthood, marriage). In Enough Said, she looks carefully at marriage and having kids and how it changes our lives; what it’s like to live with and for our children for 18 years and watch them leave one day and be left alone; at the choices we make and the influence our friends and family have over our decisions; at what it’s like to be left and/or leave someone with a broken heart. Whether you’re married or single, there’s no easy choice.

As always with Holofcener’s films, I found myself laughing and crying. When Eva’s daughter leaves home for college, after insisting on flying cross country alone, leaving her parents in the airport along after spending 18 years together and separately after their divorce, my heart sank and I burst into tears thinking of the day my own kids leave home.  When Eva and Albert start to have problems (that come as a result of her friendship with Marianne who’s information seems to be poisoning a very solid relationship), I found myself rooting for them to stay together.


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