James Gandofini in ‘Enough Said’; plus Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ‘Don Jon’
The shocking death of Sopranos’ star James Gandofini this past June at the age of 51 adds a wistful sadness while watching the gentle romantic comedy Enough Said. For those whose concept of Gandofini is shaped by The Sopranos and his numerous other tough-guy film roles (most of us are in that category), it’s surprising and delightful watching him embody the gentle and soulful man he plays in Nicole Holofcener’s film.
The movie stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Eva, a divorced, single parent and door-to-door masseuse (her clunky, barely portable table is an amusing running gag). She is terrified at the thought of living alone, with her daughter soon going off to college.
One night at a party she meets Albert (Gandofini), also divorced with a daughter about to leave for college, who is equally distressed at the notion of her departure. A sweet, understated romance commences with promise except for a deal-breaking secret. When Eva figures out that her new client and friend Marianne (Holofcener regular Catherine Keener), is in fact Albert’s ex-wife, Eva keeps the news to herself.
This choice puts a wedge in the relationship since Eva starts looking at her new lover through the perspective of Marianne’s consistent nagging about the numerous flaws of her ex. Never has a dislike of raw onions been so effectively revealed as a serious character flaw than in this quietly intriguing movie.
The beautiful performances hold together a story that is both light and airy, yet with a serious thread running through it about how people sometimes act hurtfully to protect themselves from pain. This is Eva’s dilemma. Eventually she realizes her fear of pain was destined to make her life miserable when the truth comes out in awkward fashion.
Dreyfus’ Eva has a knack for letting us know how much she hates some aspects of her life by just using body language; her character is often too passive to speak her mind. When she won’t defend Albert, that passivity becomes a crutch we wish she would throw away. Gandofini, from all accounts, is playing a character closer to who he was in real life than his career-changing role in The Sopranos. As always, Keener delivers just the perfect compliment to the other actors, in this case as the woman who can’t shut up about a man she divorced years ago.
Enough Said is a lovely coda to an actor whose career was cut short to soon.
Tom Hanks has spent his career making us believe in the strength of the ordinary man. His magic in elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary is a much-needed skill in 'Captain Phillips,' directed by Paul Greengrass.
The Halloween season has brought with it the return of the series that has inspired the current zombie craze, 'The Walking Dead' on AMC. The first episode last Sunday suggests that this year’s fourth season will be action packed. While waiting for the next episode, I thought about some of my favorite episodes and came up with a list of five all time favs.