Directed By: Nicole Holofcener
I saw Enough Said at a festival screening surrounded by several of my colleagues. They laughed at the jokes (there are many), they fell for the characters, and they left the film happy and content with this presumably insightful and warm portrayal of a woman coming to terms with her foibles.
I, on the other hand, was mortified. I think the film showcased a bunch of miserable people doing miserable things, with our lead character being the most annoying of all.
This was my introduction to the films of Nicole Holofcener, and I do still genuinely get the appeal. It may be lazy shorthand to compare to a “Woody Allen-y” shtick, but one could just as easily point to Bergman, with a group of characters interacting through their own comedic miseries. At its base, this is a comedy of manners, a broad and (for me) implausible look at a neurotic and those who facilitate the farce until the film’s inevitable conclusion.
I’m aware this seems like I’m yelling at a kitten, but I found Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character intolerable. We’re meant to accept that the deceit and duplicity (the “friendship Travelocity” situation) is forgivable and all part of the fun. I’ve bought into such heightened premises in other films, but whether it was a condition of being in a mid-fest bubble, or simply not being able to stomach the sit-com broadness of the conceit, none of the narrative worked for me. For me, these are unlikeable characters doing unlikeable things, and I couldn’t climb aboard.
This is where the Allen comparison is apt, as I’ve seen similar critiques lobbed at him. For whatever reason, I’m (often) more able to buy into his world of narcissism than the one Holofcener has created here. It’s a question of tonality, and for me, in this film, it plainly does not work.
Again, I point out the absolute gushing praise I heard from some after the screening. When I’d point out certain flaws of logic or story, they’d say, “well, yeah, but it’s that kind of movie!”
I guess I just didn’t like this kind of movie.
Still, I did find things to appreciate about the work. The performance by James Gandolfini (among his last, a cloud that hangs over the film) is quite excellent, and a supporting cast that includes the likes of Catherine Keener and Toni Collette is always appreciated. It’s also no fault of Julia L-D; I think she’s playing the character exactly how it appears on the page. It’s that I found her character Eva to be insufferable, not caring for one moment about the farcical situation that she herself continuously exacerbated. There’s a Three’s Company vibe to the proceedings, and it’s not a style of humour I’ve ever been particularly fond of.
A grand revelation — that sometimes instead of kvetching you could actually do something to improve your situation — seemed needlessly drawn out to feature length. The central tenet of the giving woman (she’s a massage therapist) unable to look out for herself is an interesting one, but I just found the way that this idea was explored was more tedious and implausible than insightful.
This is most certainly a film that will have a rapt audience. People will go just to see Gandolfini’s last stand, but they’ll also go to see what some will feel to be a smart, sassy comedy about middle aged people coming to terms with their quirks. I don’t begrudge those that might love Enough Said, but I could not get past its overly broad, entirely forced premise. For me, the film’s a bust, a series of fat jokes and ridiculous situations, a missed opportunity at a truly insightful and funny comedy, undermined by a script that simply falls flat.