Friday, January 17, 2014

Enough Said

Volunteer night came and went relatively quietly last night (only 50 or so clients) so after getting home a little after 8:00 pm and wolfing down a bowl of Progresso soup for dinner and then sharing my vanilla pudding with my kitty, Jasmin (I can’t say no to those big round eyes, but just as an fyi, there were two spoons involved), I ended up checking out the OnDemand menu for the latest round of films released this past Tuesday. I found a great line up of early 2013 films on the menu this week, including Sundance Film Festival award-winner Fruitvale Station, The Butler with Forest Whitaker and Oprah, and Enough Said starring the late great James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I was in the mood for something fun and lighthearted so I opted for the romantic comedy Enough Said, and boy was that the right decision. Loved it!

Enough Said introduces us to Eva (Louis-Dreyfus), a masseuse and divorced mother of college-bound daughter Ellen. Attending a party along with best friend Sarah (Toni Colette) and her husband Will (Ben Falcone aka Melissa McCarthy’s real-life husband aka Air Marshal guy on Bridesmaids), Eva meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), who pretentiously introduces herself as a poet to which Eva funnily replies “I’m a dreamer” until Marianne explains she’s an actual published poet. At the same party, Eva meets Albert (Gandolfini), a sweetly funny lovable lug of a man, also divorced who is dreading the imminent departure to Parsons School of Design of his daughter Tess. Despite Eva’s initial thoughts that there were no men at the party that she was attracted to, and Albert’s quick rejoinder that “that's OK, there's no one here I'm attracted to either,” the viewer can see the instant sparkle in each of their eyes as something just clicks between these two wonderful people.

Albert ultimately asks Eva out on a first date where he readily confesses his quirks ("I’m a slob. I have ear hair…not like a dirty, hoarder slob - like a normal, disorganized one" he further clarifies), and after a few well-placed sarcastic zingers from either side, its official – they are perfect for one another. You see it in their easy camaraderie, the light banter and easy flow of conversation that seems to come with no effort. Of course, in addition to Albert’s call, Eva gets a call from Marianne the poet, as a potential new client. Eva is quickly impressed by the oh so cool Marianne, who seems obsessed with spending her time bad mouthing her supposedly horrendous ex-husband (an overweight slob without any friends whose guacamole eating habits would literally nauseate her), and whom unbeknownst to Eva at this point is none other than Albert.

As Eva and Albert’s relationship quickly heats up and becomes more serious, realization finally hits Eva and she’s finally all too aware of the identity of Marianne’s horror-ex. Too in-awe of her newfound friend and curious of her insights on Albert (describing her as a human TripAdvisor), Eva maintains their growing friendship unwittingly letting Marianne’s toxic words color her own perceptions of the man she’s growing to truly care about. Torn by her friendship and her feelings for Albert, Eva chooses not to speak out and in her silence betrays someone who cares about her, possibly losing her chance at true happiness.

Like I said above, I loved this movie. It’s a wonderful adult love story, that’s funny to boot. No fifty shades of grey billionaire here or young ingĂ©nue to be seduced, just two lonely and flawed people that have been unlucky in love in the past, but they’re perfect for each other and the fates have thankfully managed to bring them together. It’s a real-life love story where the characters are imperfect and quirky and funny and just downright lovable.

As you get to know these two people, you feel an instant connection with them and can’t help but root for their happiness. I wanted to shake Eva with each mean little dig she made at Albert (at one point offering to buy him a calorie book) as the corrosive effects of Marianne’s words took effect and she lets all of the little things that seemed inconsequential at first become an annoyance; losing sight of the value of the wonderful kind man she’d found that made her happy. When Albert poignantly says to Eva “I thought you liked me” I wanted to weep for him and kick her in the shin. I’m not in a relationship but I’d say there was probably a lot of truth in the movie’s depiction of the dynamics in relationships and how external influences sometimes color our views and our actions. How many times has a friend’s off-hand negative remark (he’s chunky, he’s too nice (is there such a thing?), he’s a slob) been a contributing factor in either not giving someone a chance or causing some undue tension in an existing relationship, as we let ourselves view that person through someone else’s eyes.

The film is perfectly cast with Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus. Louis-Dreyfus’ Eva is a hybrid of a grown-up version of Elaine from Seinfeld and Christine from The New Adventures of Old Christine but with a whole lot more dimension; she’s at times funny, sad, uncertain, scared and hopeful. Gandolfini is wonderful in this role that shows off a whole new range to his talent; Albert is as far as you can get from Tony Soprano, loving, open, sincere, tender and vulnerable. The chemistry between these two great actors is undeniable and the growing emotion they portray on film between the two main characters feels incredibly real; not a love at first sight, lightning bolt type of affair, just a slow and steady connection and an understanding that this person gets you – flaws and all. Ultimately, both actors deliver; Louis-Dreyfus the film's humor and Gandolfini its heart and soul.

Enough Said’s star-crossed lovers are all too real with all the foibles and vulnerabilities that real people encompass. The movie is fresh and original in its honest and sweet look at a relationship between two mature adults and offers tons of humor and witty dialogue between two talented stars. Enough Said’s touching and at times poignant tale truly says it all about love, trust and letting go.