For all of its periodic merits and compromised promises — its highs, lows, and ample supply of mediums — as a dramedy film, Enough Said may have its strongest impact as a hint of what might have been. This is one of the films which reminds us of the barely tapped potential of late actor James Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack earlier this year. He could have been a large — and notably subtle — presence in the realm of film acting, had he been given more time to transcend his typecasting as TV’s legendary Tony Soprano.
Gandolfini bedazzled in a very different and more thuggish way as a neurotic, midlife-crisis-afflicted assassin in last year’s satirical hit man saga, Killing Them Softly. This time around, he shows a believably sensitive side, and masterfully, as a divorced man working his way into and around a strange relationship with a divorcée (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, another TV-gracing actor trying to nudge her way up to the big-screen world). They have a palpable rapport as actors and characters.
In a complicated and sometimes groaningly implausible storyline, Dreyfus plays a masseuse in Los Angeles who meets her new romantic match at a party, along with a certain poet-client (Catherine Keener, tartly witty, as usual). The she-and-him relationship is a refreshing twist on movie age-based and shape-based standards, articulated by Louis-Dreyfus’ comment to a friend “this middle-agedness is sort of comforting and sexy.” Without betraying the spoiler-alert rules of conduct, let’s say the film’s plot thickens to the point of lame sitcom-y ludicrousness, but there are colliding comic energies and commentaries about the fragility of romantic and family relations that light up the screen, if only for minutes at a time.
Ultimately, the inherent issue of small- versus large-screen equations turns on itself in a film whose gimmickry and short-sold narrative elements and production values often err on the side of glib television work. All in all, Gandolfini once again steals the show, and invites “What if?” speculation about his life’s work, now completed.