What on its surface is the premise of a half-dozen rejected pilots based on drawn-out misunderstandings transcends hackiness by having a total understanding of who the characters are. Enough Said starts with complete sculptures and then puts them in silly situations, a vital decision that turns the absurd into the possible. Holofcener adds fine detail to her characters and the actors enliven their performances with small glances or reactions that speak volumes. Arthur is far from a stupid man, but he is the kind of guy who can’t remember the name of the Container Store, a brilliant piece of writing that places him exactly in a specific middle-aged milieu. Eva crochets while she waits for her daughter and her friend to finish shopping, a simple choice for a hobby that immediately puts her in a warm maternal light. Marianne’s the most difficult sell to this viewer based on her ethereal manner that screams Goop patron, but the way she goes in for an extra hug from Eva speaks to a hunger for honest interaction that puts a twinge of the tragic into this comedy. These instances happen early and often, making the characters so real and lived-in that Enough Said makes other films worse for not being as perceptive about human behavior.
Around her characters, Holofcener crafts several potent scenarios. This film isn’t just about the mechanics of the central miscommunication, but about middle-aged romance and friendship, about children leaving home, about indecisiveness and self-improvement, about unrealized wounds one can inflict in the people around you. Despite all these avenues, the film never feels overstuffed, even at only 93 minutes. Holofcener finds time for everything, and not in cursory ways. A version of the film could be made about Ellen, at first happy to get out of the house and then resentful towards a mother who’s directing her pent-up parental energy towards Ellen’s friend. It could be a pure character study of Albert, a man content to coast through the next decade or two in his happy niche of low-level disarray, a state defined by a lawn with a few too many weeds in it and a body with a few repairs that have been put off. Enough Said is Linklater-esque in that the world of the film is so rich that it’s a choice and not a necessity that it focuses on who it does. Eva is a wonderful lead surrounded by compelling supporting players, but she could easily swap out with any of them and the film would remain great.
Though it could easily be about half a dozen people, Enough Said does put Eva up front. Louis-Dreyfuss has dominated the TV comedy landscape for decades, and Enough Said makes the case that she could’ve done the same for film. Her Eva is so charming, combining the aforementioned wit with a self-deprecation that puts a toe towards an affecting pathos and a maternal glow that rivals the one that Julianne Moore has been emanating through Still Alice and Wonderstruck. Opposite her, Gandolfini puts away his Tony Soprano accent and charisma for a nasal and shy man likely close to his actual persona. Seeing him loosen up around Eva is a revelation, a melting process that the viewer feels along with him, which in turn makes Arthur’s humiliation and betrayal when the film’s conceit inevitably breaks down feel that much more palpable. Together, Louis-Dreyfuss and Gandolfini are a beautiful couple. It’s no surprise that she’s a master of timing, but people forget who funny The Sopranos was and Gandolfini keeps pace with his screenmate’s genius. This is a frequently hilarious film due to their reactions and comebacks, all of which are in the perfect register for who these characters are.
Despite the obvious brilliance and low-key indie success of this film, Holofcener has only directed one more movie and written two more scripts since. Along with Debra Granik and Lynne Ramsay, she’s yet another female auteur who has an unjustly difficult time getting their work onto screens. Enough Said is a film that demands more from its creator, as it’s exactly the kind of film that CGI-averse moviegoers say they want but get less and less of. In the absence of more gems from Holofcener, Enough Said more than suffices as a testament to adult filmmaking and a sweet swan song to one of the greatest actors of my lifetime. A