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ENOUGH SAID

SYNOPSIS:
A divorced single parent, Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) spends her days enjoying work as a masseuse but dreading her daughter's impending departure for college. While at a party she meets Albert (James Gandolfini) - a sweet, funny and like-minded man also facing an empty nest. As their romance blossoms, Eva befriends Marianne (Catherine Keener), her new massage client. Marianne is a poet who seems "almost perfect" except for one prominent quality: she spends much of her time complaining about her ex-husband's annoying habits. Suddenly it all comes together as Eva realizes that Albert is Marianne's ex and finds herself doubting her own relationship with Albert as she learns the "truth" about him from Marianne.

Review by Louise Keller:
The delicacy of nuance and the impact of the minutiae are placed under the microscope in this keenly observed comedy about relationships and the unpredictable essence of human behaviour. This is filmmaker Nicole Holofcener's forte, exposing the innermost conflicts, confusions, uncertainties and vulnerabilities of relationships and the interactions that form their pulse - all with a light touch. Similar to her earlier works Walking and Talking (1996), Lovely & Amazing (2001), Friends with Money (2006) and Please Give (2010), Enough Said is especially accurate in its revelations, insights and truths of her female characters, the veracity of which jump off the screen, often uncomfortably close to the bone.

Engaging, funny and richly coated with brave lashings of tangible situations and reactions, the wonderfully pitched characterisations and performances are made especially poignant by a superb turn by James Gandolfini in his second last screen role. The way Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini figuratively dance around each from their initial meeting at a party after a damning statement that neither is attracted by anyone present, is highly compelling as the twists and turns of their relationship evolve. The conversation on their first date includes fake boobs, divorce and Albert's (Gandolfini) divulging of the irritants and his perceived shortcomings, as expressed by his ex-wife. Details about out of synch sex and parental conflict follow on the second date. There's a disarming honesty about the way their relationship develops, from the no-holds barred intimate discussions about sex and Eva's admission to a friend that she finds their mutual middle-agedness to be both comforting and sexy.

The fact that Marianne (Catherine Keener), the friend in question who Eva meets at the same party as Albert and becomes one of her masseur clients happens to be Albert's ex-wife offers unlimited opportunities for awkward intercourse. The scene in which we (and Eva) discover this bombshell is hilarious; it is something as simple as separating the onion out of the guacamole with a corn chip.

Keener is a favourite of Holofcener, having appeared in each of her features, and in this pivotal role as the catalyst of doom in the budding relationship, she is terrific. Other interactions thrown into the mix are that of Eva and Albert's respective daughters Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) and Tess (Eve Hewson) and the story strand involving Ellen's friend Chloe (Tavi Gevinson) and mother daughter jealousy is especially effective. Toni Collette plays Eva's therapist friend who spends her life rearranging her furniture and whose marriage seems to be destined for the same fate as that of the other two women. The disastrous dinner scene is one of the film's best, when words spit out like bullets and self-restraint flies out the window.

We can see and learn a lot about ourselves in Holofcener's films and the journey is not only amusing, pleasurable but thought provoking. As the title implies, the lesson to be learned may be to give pause to thought before leaping into thoughtless dialogue.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It may well have been titled Too Much Said, as two divorced women and a bickering married one are thrown into a relationship train wreck - two of them participants, the third a snappy onlooker. Nicole Holofcener's screenplay doesn't favour these women; they are like characters from a misogynist's playbook, and credit to all three actresses for staying centred and real.

The central woman is 4-year divorced Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a mother to teenage daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) and a masseuse. When she meets Albert (James Gandolfini) at a party, they make a connection. At the same party but not the same meeting, Eva is introduced to Marianne (Catherine Keener) a poet with a bad shoulder, 10-year divorced.

Albert and Eva go on a date and gently hit it off; they share a dinner out and get a glimpse of each other's personality. They like what they see.

But then Eva gets Marianne as a new client, and is soon hearing about the ex; Marianne badmouths her ex from breakfast to bedroom, and in a small example of what annoyed her about him, Eva recognises Albert.

It's at this point that Eva's character is put to the test. The snappy onlooker is Eva's friend, the therapist, Sarah (Toni Collette), whose marriage to Will (Ben Falcone) seems like a contest for spouse supremacy. Although not divorced, Sarah and Will display the same hostilities that yanked the other couples apart - the myriad sharps of a relationship that instead of supporting each other, flaws and all, seeks to highlight the flaws, real or perceived.

In that regard, Holofcener's screenplay is damn well observed. The crux of the scenario is what will Eva do with her discovery? This is what keeps the entire second act afloat and us in suspense. There are some excellent comedic moments, some insightful dialogue and some intimate moments that glue it all together.

Wonderful performances give the film its heart and soul; Gandolfini (in his penultimate role) is utterly believable as the overweight husband and father with a grounded attitude and a well balanced view of life. By contrast, his ex, Marianne is rather self centred and Eva is ungrounded. She is even ungrounded about her daughter leaving for college. When we meet her ex, Jason (Phillip Brock), Eva's flaws are magnified. As for Marianne, her brat of a daughter Tess (Eve Hewson), we see Marianne's full suite of flaws - reflected in Tess.

I guess the ending can't be more life-like for fear of turning audiences off - and it is meant to be a comedy - but I would have welcomed a scenario where the women had to pay a price for their character flaws.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ENOUGH SAID (M)
US, 2013)

CAST: James Gandolfini, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Tracey Fairaway, Ben Falcone, Michaela Watkins, Phillip Brock, Eve Hewson

PRODUCER: Stefanie Azpiazu, Anthony Bregman

DIRECTOR: Nicole Holofcener

SCRIPT: Nicole Holofcener

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Xavier Pérez Grobet

EDITOR: Robert Frazen

MUSIC: Marcelos Zarvos

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Keith P. Cunningham

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 14, 2013







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