Mid-life romance -- the post-divorce kind -- is tough all around. You've been burned or disappointed or humiliated or all of the above. How do you learn to trust someone new in that way?
Nicole Holofcener brings a wonderfully humane approach to the subject with Enough Said, a bittersweet romantic comedy made all the sadder by the fact that it represents one of James Gandolfini's final performances onscreen.
The film focuses on Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a masseuse in Los Angeles who has a steady, if unfulfilling, practice. She's divorced and has a daughter who will leave for college in the fall, a fact that Eva is emotionally ill-prepared for.
At a party, she meets Albert (Gandolfini), who is also divorced and funny enough that, when he calls her for a date, she says yes, though she tells her best friend Sarah (Toni Collette) she isn't particularly attracted to him. But she turns out to be wrong: He's witty, smart, sensitive -- not perfect but a pretty good match for Eva's sense of humor (which, as she's noted, is crucial).
At the same time, Eva has developed a friendship with a new massage client, a poet named Marianne (Catherine Keener, something of a Holofcener muse). But as they dish about their respective failed marriages over the course of several appointments, Eva comes to an uncomfortable realization: that the slob of an ex-husband Marianne keeps dissing is, in fact, Albert.
Instead of saying anything to either of them, however, Eva simply goes along for the ride with unfortunate results. The quirks of Albert's that drove Marianne crazy suddenly loom large whenever Eva spends time with him. Can she ignore them? Or will she try to change him?
As with all plots built on either a lie or a sin of omission, "Enough Said" wouldn't even exist as a story if Eva simply said, "Oh my god, I'm dating your ex-husband," or "Oh my god, your ex-wife is my client," and acted accordingly. But Holofcener understands human nature well.
This review continues on my website.