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Friday, January 3, 2014

"Enough Said", Is All about Chemistry

Enough Said

You already know of my personal crusade against films "about nothing". So I'll be clear from the very first sentence. Huge thanks to Nicole Holofcener for making movies about "regular people", with credible situations and feelings. The script (in this case written by Holofcener herself), I will always defend is all about the script. And the actors involved in transforming words and ideas into "flesh & bones" characters.  

"Enough Said" might qualify as a romantic comedy, and indeed some little twists here and there, plus its finale, which might be too much of a slight turn into bland, pleasant territory that "mainstream rom-coms" are exploiting ad nauseam. But this is a movie so full of honesty, solid acting and enduring charms the aforementioned little flaws become almost incidental. 

It's all about second chances, real (and therefore complex) people and their emotional fears. It's all about mature love, something that Hollywood tends to either neglect completely or transform into an extremely silly type of film. Holofcener devotes a wonderful amount of time in dissecting her main characters without failing into too narrative ventures, so Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Albert (James Gandolfini, forever missed) are so well defined their little manias, actions and habits say enough about them. The things that are left unsaid are also there, and any viewer willing to watch the film will recognize them. This idiotic and schizo society tries to make us invulnerable, but we are (fortunately) "fragile things". Because we have feelings, and getting hurt is so frightening. "Enough Said" exposes that ugly truth with a surprising, defiant naturalness. And humour.

It might be true the subplots of the film are somewhat flawed. Marianne (played by infallible Catherine Keener) is too one-dimensional, but I guess it might just serve to counterpoint Eva's attitude towards life and love. Same can be said about Sarah (Toni Collette) and Will (Ben Falcone), Eva's closest friends and a couple always in a quite funny (and surreal) conflict and the daughters subplots (James and Eva have both daughters) might have some more poignancy, as involves some more interesting characters (also a curiosity, Tess, James' daughter, is played by Bono's daughter, Eve Hewson) but they also remain a bit blurred, being there just for the purpose of completing the detailed picture of James and Eva.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini are excellent in their performances as Eva and Albert, making every bit of their relationship so credible and endearing. I guess the combination of great script plus great actors still gets the job done (let's hope someone in Hollywood listens). They both carry the weight of their pasts, the failed marriages, the challenges with the growing daughters about to become fully independent (the "empty nest" syndrome) and, foremost, the clash between their life as independent individuals and the chance of being with someone again. The chemistry between the actors is undeniable and every time they share the screen the movie goes way beyond your average, light-hearted comedy. Here's a heart.

And chemistry is precisely the key, the message of the film. You have to risk yourself, defeat your understandable fears, when romance appears. That Holofcener uses a trick (no spoiling) to make Eva decide between the information about James she gathers from an unbeatable source and her own feelings is just a comedic resource. But also an interesting one about perception, misjudgements and excuses: all blatant examples of our human weaknesses. At the end the wise director makes a clear bet, but without a happy ending guarantee. Will it work? Who knows, but it's worth trying. Like Woody Allen would say (check his masterpieces "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan" if you like this film). We (still) need the eggs.

SCORE: 7,25/10

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