The first time that I saw James Gandolfini onscreen he was beating the shit out of Patricia Arquette’s character in the Tarantino penned True Romance. This sounds harsh, but there is no other way to describe a scene that lasts around 6 minutes and consists of Gandolfini inflicting brutal violence while Arquette is fighting for dear life, and it’s every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds. This is the role that would eventually earn him his iconic role as Tony Soprano, the mobster that brought the gritty male anti-hero on an hour-long drama formula to the forefront of television. Menacing dangerous men who hide behind a thin layer of charisma, these are the types of characters that Gandolfini has become known for, but in one of his last roles as Albert we see him bring a warmth to the screen that as an actor he has not been given many opportunities to display.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Eva, a divorced single mother and massage therapist who is preparing for her daughter to go away to college soon. After attending a party with some friends Eva meets a new friend, Marianne (Catherine Keener) and a new man, Albert (James Gandolfini). At some point she puts together the fact that her new friend and new boyfriend were once married. The film largely deals with how Eva handles these new relationships.
Writer/director Nicole Holofcener has a talent for creating characters that hit close to home. You are not always sure if you like them, but their unlikeable moments are relatable and somewhat grounded in reality. Take for instance Eva and Marianne’s friendship, Eva is drawn to this cool artsy woman that has good taste and considers Joni Mitchell a longtime friend. When Eva discovers that Marianne is Albert’s ex-wife, she should figure out a way to handle this situation gracefully, but instead she takes in the toxic history between the ex’s — even when it starts to have an effect on her relationship and how she views Albert. She thinks that figuring out why the two didn’t work out will help her, but it manifests itself in ways that lead to self-sabotage.
Dreyfus and Gandolfini have an easy chemistry and Eva describes it best when after a first date she says, “it feels like we are already old friends.” The rapport between the two makes for some lovely and genuinely funny scenes. It’s a mature comedy that doesn’t take the overly serious route. Enough Said does a good job of showing how all of those annoying habits that start out as cute can eventually become irritating. But even more than this, it shows that when you find someone that understands your quirks — like adding extra butter on popcorn at the movies, not owning end tables — does it really even matter? No.