It is very active decision on my part not to include the trailer for Enough Said in this post. Like too many a trailer these days, it reveals too much of the plot, ruins too many jokes, and leaves little to the imagination of the viewer. (Having said all that, it is cut to “German Love” by STRFKR, which is a commendable cutesy-indie soundtrack choice.) The film stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Eva, a divorced massage-therapist with a daughter soon to be leaving for college, and James Gandolfini, also divorced with a college-bound daughter, both hoping to find a better love the second time around. With that in mind, it’s pretty easy to conclude that Enough Said follows a predictable romantic trajectory—or at least, the new predictable rom-com trajectory. It’s full of those uncomfortable moments, idiosyncratic characters, and cringe-worthy statements that fill the current independent romantic film genre, a comment that I’m aware I made about last week’s In a World… But Louis-Dreyfus is as great a comedian as ever, and the film is certainly funny, if wildly uncomfortable. There is more to the film than pure comedy; in a more tender moment, Eva tells Albert, “I’m tired of being funny,” and we feel the emotional exhaustion of a woman hiding behind humor.
Enough Said focuses on a fairly untapped demographic in the rom-com genre: middle-aged, not-so-good-looking people. Let me clarify: I’d never call Louis-Dreyfus unattractive, but surely we can agree that the late Gandolfini, whatever his other talents may be, did not get by on his looks. He’s big and hairy and losing his hair, and Louis-Dreyfus declares at the party at which she meets him that she is not attracted to a single person present. And while we have become adjusted to the independent film industry making romantic comedies about less glamourous people—Demitri Martin of In a World…, for example, is no Brad Pitt —it does still seem highly irregular to have an older, actively un-sexy man assume the romantic lead. The boys on Girls may not be heartthrobs by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re still in their 20s and thin, and thus the idea of them having sex seems much less bizarre than watching Gandolfini clumsily fondle Louis-Dreyfus.
Whenever we see middle-aged people have sex on screen, even in independent cinema, they look like Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore (The Kids are All Right) or Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (Before Midnight). It’s interesting to watch Louis-Dreyfus struggle to deal with the fact that while she may attracted to Gandolfini, he is not conventionally attractive, and he doesn’t seem to care to change or disguise that. “Did I get the day wrong?” she asks, when arrives at his home for a brunch-date, only to find him in sloppy sweatpants and a big t-shirt. “It’s Sunday. I like to be comfortable,” he explains.
The uncomfortable moments rely not only on the discrepancy in the two lovers looks, but also in the fact that Eva, somewhat accidentally, is reminded of this discrepancy by a new friend: Albert’s ex-wife. Eva finds herself with access to an unfiltered review on all of Albert’s bad qualities—she tells her best friend, played by Toni Collete, that it’s like having a TripAdvisor for her relationship. “If you could avoid staying at a bad hotel, wouldn’t you?” Her logic is sort of valid, but as an audience you cringe while watching Eva so obviously destroy a possibly great love. The fact that she definitely has an epic girl-crush on the ex-wife only further complicates things. The interesting thing for a college-aged audience is how familiar this problem is; while for Eva it is a novelty to have such information available on her potential suitor, this is arguably more often the case than not for us. That is, between Facebook and the factoids you friends and acquaintances can give, when does a college student not have a TripAdvisor summary on a given person? If Enough Said is anything to go by, this is a dangerous reality indeed.
Enough Said follows the formula of a sort of Shakespearean romantic-comedy-of-errors, and it does it well. Stop by the Avon this before this Friday to enjoy it.