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Enough Said: Charming and Realistic.

October 5, 2013

So it might be hard to believe since I am such a badass, but there is a big soft spot in my heart for Romantic Comedies. Truly the bane of most of my cinema going existence is that most romantic comedies are pretty terrible. They generally have a warped view of how people interact, abysmally shallow characters, and hackneyed recyclable plots. Rom-coms do have surprisingly good soundtracks though. I have no idea why that is, but I’d theorize it has to do with the fact that there are plenty of awesome songs about breakups and love. Of course, most of the time the songs themselves have little to do with what’s happening on screen and are the best part of the scenes which they appear in.

Anyway, my point is that even picking and choosing my romantic comedy experiences there are still plenty of chances to get burned. When I first saw the trailer for Enough Said, I was instantly intrigued but guarded. After all, just because a film has a more independent streak to it doesn’t necessarily make it good. I mean really, indie rom-coms are filled with their own terrible tropes as well (what is it with socially awkward white people and running through the rain?).

Enough Said is an interesting examination of the post-divorce middle aged dating scene. An awkward reality for many people in which you both have no interest in going through the nonsensical dance we call dating and need ways to overcome your own loneliness. Eva (Louis-Dryfus), a divorced masseuse whose daughter is preparing to leave for college, attends a party with her married friends where she meets Marianne (Keener), a divorced poet, and Albert (Gandolfini) a charming if not necessarily physically attractive man. Eva becomes Marianne’s masseuse and confidant at the same time that she begins to date, and fall for, Albert.

Very quickly she realizes that Marianne is Albert’s ex-wife, and even though she recognizes that she should do something, she grows closer to them both while pumping Marianne for Albert’s bad habits. It’s an interesting premise that while somewhat predictable is a very charming ride. The movie keeps you engaged by its effortless humor and brilliant performances. I found the late James Gandolfini’s to be particularly impressive when you consider how often we see him play powerful men (not only has he been Tony Soprano but he has been the Mayor of New York and a US Army General) and in this he’s much more muted and average. As Albert describes himself, he’s a bit of slob, not in a disgusting way but in a lazy aware that he has problems but not doing anything to fix them way.

The film itself makes an interesting point about honesty in relationships not just when you’re older and ‘should know better’ but in general. The lack of true emotional communication is what causes the breakdown in the various relationships that we see throughout the movie. Only honest discussion can repair these fissures, and the film openly acknowledges just how difficult that can be while still clearly showing us that it’s the right choice.

This is a movie that’s definitely worth watching, especially if you’re looking for a realistic romance. While the attractiveness of the various actors and actresses can be debated, there’s a clear effort to not make them appear glamorous, which is something I really appreciated. Too often romantic leads are astoundingly beautiful people with fantastic careers that for some reason or another haven’t met the one, because “the one,” is a real thing. However, Enough Said really does portray real people who have emotional baggage and actual problems communicating their thoughts and desires. More importantly though, it shows us that overcoming those problems is something that is difficult and requires both parties to work hard.

I highly suggest watching Enough Said, it’s something that can easily pass under your radar and even though it’s not necessarily quotable, its combination of humorous dialogue and poignant scenes will stick with you long after you leave the theater.

Some minor notes and further complaints about Rom-Coms after the break.

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Hey there, Superfans! Chariots! Chariots!

I think the first thing I want to talk about is that there wasn’t anything particularly special in terms of direction in this film. Granted, this genre of film doesn’t need to be astoundingly well shot or anything but I felt like there was never a scene where I thought to myself, “That was a good choice.” Really the problem is that there was one scene where I found myself asking, “Why would you shoot this this way?”

There’s an early scene where Eva is talking to her friend Sarah (Collette in a fantastically funny performance) via Skype and for some reason it keeps cutting between the two of them as if we’re looking at them through their webcam. The other video-camera conversations in the movie don’t do this, which is also what makes it horrendously jarring when you realize this later but even the first time it happens your first thought is, “I hope this doesn’t become a thing.” It really just made my mind boggle for a moment because it just didn’t look good.

I really just think that it must be chalked up to a decision to experiment that clearly didn’t work well. However, the fact that it’s never attempted again in the movie makes me think they realized this and just decided not to reshoot it. Maybe they were running out of time or they just really felt the actors nailed it during that take, I don’t know. I just didn’t like it. Plus, the scene’s editing was fast paced and choppy unlike the rest of the movies fairly smooth transitions. It was an anomalous scene for the film and I just wish that it was fixed.

Beyond that though my only other complaint is the film’s relatively happy ending. The movie does seem like it’s going to come to a close when Eva and her ex-husband say goodbye to their daughter at the airport. There’s a brilliant fade to white as they walk away, distant as people but proud of the daughter they’ve raised, and Eva’s relationship with Albert has come to the crashing conclusion we all anticipated after watching the trailer. Yet, it picks up again several months later at Thanksgiving when Eva and Albert begin to reconcile.

My knee jerk reaction was that it wasn’t realistic. After the emotional dishonesty of pumping his ex-wife for information, I really wouldn’t expect Albert to patch things up. Yet, even now just a few hours after having watched it I question that initial reaction. Once again, they’re both older people, they were fairly open about their emotional baggage, and their romance is not a whirlwind affair. It’s this interesting, cautious, coming together that’s really very sweet (and very funny). Also, even with Marianne poisoning Eva’s perceptions, she often seems surprised how much she enjoys the things that Marianne did hate.

So perhaps my gut reaction was wrong and maybe that happy ending is realistic. Or at least, that’s what I believe because it was sort of nice to see them get back together at the end, even if it was as cautious as the very beginning.

There’s a lot more I could praise about this movie. The performances are all astounding and there’s lots of little things in terms of the story that make it more than just the sum of its parts. I particularly found the B-plot involving Eva growing close with her daughter’s best friend, almost effectively replacing her own daughter, to be strange yet illuminating to her own emotional neediness and the way she handles (or avoids) emotional problems. Also, the fact that Albert’s daughter is a little snobby and obnoxious was a nice touch because it’s not so much that she has a problem with her father dating Eva, that’s just the type of girl she is, which felt far more appropriate than any of the younger characters opposing their relationship. Finally, the banter between Collette and Falcone as Eva’s close married friends is wonderfully hilarious, and they’re a delight in literally every scene where they appear.

I highly suggest this film simply because it’s not a Rom-Com, it is a Romantic Comedy.

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