There are many reasons to encourage you to see and revisit “Enough Said” (2013) today. Number one on my list is the trajectory of one of America’s greatest writer/directors Nicole Holofcener. She has done five films – which seen together show her evolution as an uncanny observer of modern human foibles in particular our insecurities and narcissism. Her droll comedies “Walking and Talking” (1996), “Lovely and Amazing” (2001), “Friends with Money” (2006), and “Please Give” (2010) expose her characters’ contradictions and self-sabotaging. Her narratives are what I describe to my students as realistic. They unfold leisurely as if they were unstructured – but by the time you’re done you realize the depth of planning and the impact of its careful plotting. “Enough Said” is the best introduction to this talented auteur’s work for it is her biggest crowd-pleaser.
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a Los Angeles massage therapist who is divorced with a daughter who will soon be heading off to college. At a party she meets a new client – Marianne (perennial Holofcener cast member and muse Catherine Keener) who comes across as intimidating and successful albeit ethereal. Separately, Eva meets TV Librarian Albert (James Gandolfini) – who is also divorced and with a daughter getting ready to go to college. Eva at first is not keen into dating Albert because of his physical appearance, but is eventually disarmed by him. “It’s funny because middle-agedness and flabbiness is comforting and sexy to me. Isn’t that so incredibly sad but sort of good, too?,” she admits to her friend, Sarah (Toni Colette) who happens to be a therapist. While massaging Marianne and becoming her confidante, Eva hears Marianne complain about and berate her former husband. We soon find out that her ex is Albert. Eva crosses a boundary by continuing massaging Marianne to find out more. “She’s a human TripAdvisor,” Eva shares with Sarah.
Reason number two to watch this film is how romantic it is – in a sophisticated and mature way. Through this scenario, issues ranging from self-esteem, body image, loneliness, compromise, betrayal, empty nest syndrome and female pecking order are addressed in natural, insightful and often times hysterical ways. It is significant that Eva is a massage therapist – who has to enter stranger’s homes to engage in a physical and intimate way – yet has difficulties knowing how to navigate as a lover as well as a mother in her mid-life. Eva encounters situations beyond her range of vision that she cannot see properly. Holofcener has an extraordinary way of capturing everyday human behavior and exposing its humor and warmth. I love the scene after Eva and Albert first have sex, and she sighs deeply and confesses, “I’m tired of being funny.” And he replies, “Me, too.” Beat. “But you’re not funny,” Eva says.
Reason number three is that Dreyfus is smart, understated and instinctual as Eva. I mean this as the best compliment – you completely forget she’s the actress from “Veep” and “Seinfeld.” Reason four – Gandolfini anchors the movie – and it’s heartbreaking to think this was his last leading role for he’s a revelation in a romantic role. He’s so gentle and charming. This movie could have created a whole new career for him. The scene in which he tells Eva how he feels about her betrayal had me in tears. In that moment – which is signature Holofcener – the main character is confronted about her narcissism. The last exchange between the two characters on the stoop outside his house is priceless.
Albert: “It sounds corny. You broke my heart, and I’m too old for that shit.”
Available to rent on Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, FandangoNOW, DIRECTV, Redbox and Microsoft.
Written by Nicole Holofcener
Directed by Nicole Holofcener
Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette and Ben Falcone
The Inspiration Behind “Enough Said”
In an interview with IndieWire, writer and director Nicole Holofcener discusses the inspiration behind her film, “Enough Said.” “I’m somebody’s ex-wife, and I did things that drove him nuts. And now I’m somebody’s girlfriend, for many years, and I’ve got different things that drive him nuts. I’m the same person. What are the deal breakers? What can we live with? How do we have enough hope and lack of cynicism to go in after you’ve had a hard relationship? When you hit middle age, like I have, it’s scary, when you know so much, and you know how ugly it can get. And yet, you still fall in love, and you can’t help it. And it’s bittersweet. And that’s kind of what I sat down to write…I did have the machinations in my mind when I pitched it to Searchlight: I knew I wanted to have an ex-wife who would just spill … but does that make those things that she said true? They are just true for her. And if you’re insecure enough about your own perspective, and your own opinions, like Eva is in the movie, it can wreck everything. That’s probably not a very concise way of putting it, but that’s kind of how I work. [laughs]” (indiewire.com)
Nicole Holofcener on Casting “Enough Said”
“Gandolfini wanted to make sure he was the right actor for this romantic leading role. Holofcener says: “He wanted to know I could bail if I decided the role wasn’t right for him. He said, ‘You know I’m fat? You know I’m big? You know Julia is really beautiful, you know we’re mismatched?’” Holofcener didn’t do a huge amount of preparation with the actors. “I don’t generally believe in a lot of workshopping or anything. Also I don’t like to beat a dead horse, there is something to be said for spontaneity.” She continues: “I’m not a big backstory person. Unless an actor wants me to be. I said to Jim and Julia, ‘Do you want me to tell you your backstories?’ I’d have fun drumming up some stuff that would make sense. But neither of them asked for that. The first time we met, the three of us just sat down and went through the script. We read the scenes, and I said, ‘Tell me if something is dumb or confusing.’ The collaboration started there,” she adds. Of the former “Seinfeld” star Louis-Dreyfus, who is Golden Globe nominated, Holofcener says: “I’m so lucky I cast her. You never know how deep an actor is willing to go, and how open. I thought that she was so vulnerable and real, she was just what I needed, she balances the comedy and the tragedy in the same moment. Sometimes I still tear up watching Julia’s face – do you know how many times I’ve seen it? And she can still move me.” (screendaily.com)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Joining “Enough Said”
“…the reason I was able to do “Enough Said” is that I had just finished season one of “Veep,” which was only eight episodes, and so my time opened up. And this particular movie was shot in L.A., so I went home every night. A lot of things about it made it very doable, and irresistible because the script was such a cut above anything I had read in quite a long time. We started talking about the script right away, and our kids, and our relationship with our children. And my husband and I had taken our oldest son off to college, and that was this massive moment in our family’s life. We talked about the dynamics of that, and I think I probably burst into tears as we were talking about it. Which I think pretty much secured me the gig at that point.” (thewrap.com)
About Writer and Director Nicole Holofcener
“Ms. Holofcener was born into a theatrical family: in addition to her mother’s show business credentials, her father, Lawrence Holofcener, is a veteran stage actor and Broadway lyricist. She spent her childhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan but moved to Santa Monica, Calif., with her mother and older sister, Suzanne, when she was 12…In 1982, Ms. Holofcener’s stepfather, the film producer Charles Joffe, got her a job as a production assistant on Woody Allen’s 1982 film ”A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.” Ms. Holofcener also worked as an apprentice editor on Mr. Allen’s ”Hannah and Her Sisters.” A few years later, she enrolled at Columbia University and was soon writing, directing and displaying prescience when it came to casting. Her student videos featured the actresses Allison Janney and Cynthia Nixon. ”Walking and Talking,” her feature debut, is considered the first real showcase for Ms. Heche and Ms. Keener, who was nominated for an Academy Award for ”Being John Malkovich.” (The New York Times) “Returning East to college, Holofcener originally wanted to become an artist like her father, but felt she wasn’t as talented as others in her classes. From there she gravitated into taking some film courses. She studied film at Columbia University, and made two shorts titled “Angry” and “It’s Richard I Love.” While at Columbia, she was taught by Martin Scorsese. After viewing one of her college works, her stepfather wondered aloud if she shouldn’t make a career change. Disappointed, she became a clerk at a video store for a while, then entered Columbia’s graduate school program. At the time of his death in 2008, Charles Joffe had become one of the most ardent fans of his stepdaughter’s work. “Angry” received critical praise at the Sundance Film Festival. Holofcener made her feature film writing and directing debut with “Walking and Talking,” which starred Catherine Keener, Anne Heche, Todd Field, Liev Schreiber, and Kevin Corrigan. The film was critically acclaimed. Her understanding of modern, professional women made her an ideal choice to direct female-centric television shows like “Sex and the City,” “Leap of Faith” and “Gilmore Girls.” She followed in 2001 with her second feature, “Lovely and Amazing.” After directing two episodes of the series “Six Feet Under,” Holofcener began work on her third film, “Friends with Money,” which featured Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand and, once again, Catherine Keener. The film opened the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and its screenplay was nominated for the 2006 Independent Spirit Award, while Frances McDormand won the award for Best Supporting Female. Holofcener’s fourth feature film, “Please Give,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival. It stars Keener in the duo’s fourth collaboration and was released in 2010. (www.jewage.org) Holofcener went on to direct the following films, “I Hate That I Love You,” “Enough Said,” and “The Land of Steady Habits,” as well as episodes of “Enlightened,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Togetherness,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Orange is the New Black,” “One Mississippi,” and “Mrs. Fletcher.”