"Enough Said": James Gandolfini's Last Film Showed His Soft Side

In a way, writer-director Nicole Holofcener's fifth feature, a small-scale romantic comedy about weary and insecure middle-agers, is a lot like The Dark Knight. As that film was a bittersweet reminder of how Heath Ledger had more to give than his too-short life allowed, Holofcener's film is likewise for James Gandolfini. Beyond that, of course, Enough Said bears no resemblance whatsoever to a Batman blockbuster. Set exactingly within the remarkable possibility of ordinary people existing in L.A., Holofcener's scenario posits Gandolfini as a divorced single-dad TV archivist, the unlikely but possibly ideal love interest for Julia Louis-Dreyfus' divorced single-mom massage therapist. For these two, common ground is easy to find — each is facing an impending empty nest — but they've both lived long enough not to take their developing bond for granted. (In one telling moment of mutual vulnerability, they inspect each other's teeth.) There is also the complicating presence of Holofcener regular Catherine Keener, as a New Age poet. How it all plays out, even without the unexpected layer of wistful Gandolfini remembrance, is sad and funny at the same time. With her own unique manner of acerbic empathy, Holofcener reveals the peculiar human gravity that pulls makeshift families together and sometimes apart. The well-played hesitancy with which her characters decide on and attempt intimacy, as friends or as lovers, shows a deep understanding of how we all cope with our accumulated history.

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