Ex-Men and Women: Daze of Futures Past
It's refreshing to see a rom-com where the entangled are not "zygotes in love," young puppy-lovers with their whole lives in front of them as they go walking off into the sunset, or walking along the sandy-beach, or kissing in front of fireworks while the music swells and we head for the exits. That's about the time where the "They Lived happily Ever After" credit of "The End," sometimes with the cutesy "(?)," burns itself into the acetate, and I give a guttural chuckle while the thought of there being a sequel where everything goes to shit burns itself into my grey matter.
Most rom-coms, even the most cynical ones, are first acts, where the lessons learned and the hurdles tripped over only get us to the threshold of commitment and then leave us with the unasked question: "So, how's THAT working out for you?"
But, when you're dealing with adult rom-com's there's always that bittersweet quality where flirtations are recognized to be temporary sparks, and that work is involved and sometimes relationships need to be as tailored like clothes, as people change and grow either too comfortable or not comfortable enough. If nothing fits, then it's time to do some spring cleaning and donate stuff to somebody else. That's the situation with people in Enough Said, the latest film by Nicole Holofcener, who's doing her best to off-set the male-centric movie landscape in the States. This one centers around Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) a single mother, once divorced, working as an in-home masseuse, who's dreading the departure of her daughter (Tracey Fairaway) for college, and feeling needy, probably because it's one thing to be a married "empty nester," but a single one? Misery loves company.
That's why her meeting Albert (James Gandolfini) at a party is such a lucky break. Divorced, nebbish-y, his daughter (Eve Hewson) is also going away to college. There's no real attraction at the beginning, and there's really nothing there, but a casual date is fun, and she finds herself relaxing with him. Her therapist-friend (Toni Collette) is supportive, as is her daughter, such as she can be. Even one of her clients she's bonded with, Marianne (Catherine Keener), thinks it's a great idea.
It's going great...just great...great. Yeah. Then, she starts to notice that the things that irritated Marianne about her ex, are things that Albert does all the time. It's not that they are particularly irritating, but...she never noticed them before, and now that she's noticing them...yeah, they are pretty irritating things. And, considering that those "things" broke up Marianne's marriage to him, Eva decides that maybe she'd better fire a couple of shots across Albert's considerable bow to see if she can change him before things get any more serious. For Albert, it starts to sour their relationship because when Eva brings them up (as he says) "it's like I'm with my ex-wife..."
This is kinda sit-commie. A little too convenient (story-wise) that everybody should be in such proximity that they get caught up in each other's orbits (minor quibble), and you want to apply some malicious reiki to Eva's neck—if it weren't for the fact that this is a kinder, gentler version of Louis-Dreyfuss' Elaine Benes from "Seinfeld," so wrapped up in herself that she's quite unaware that she's an emotional black hole, starting to suck the energy out of people to fulfill her needs, so in pursuit of "the new" that she tends to shaft the familiar (a not uncommon trait). The wonderful thing about Louis-Dreyfuss (besides being able to channel her dark side in her sleep) is how she is still able to make Eva engaging. She has to be, for the attraction to work. And Gandolfini is superb in this, vacillating between shy comfort and wariness, constantly looking at people out of the corner of his eye as if looking at them directly will reveal too much or put his vulnerability out there to be skewered. Good cast all around and they do make the most of the material, of adults who are still in need of love and finding that available hugging arms are in increasingly short supply.
|He talks during movies and rattles his popcorn, so I couldn't date him.
Louis-Dreyfuss and Gandofini in Enough Said.