Anita Casey-Reed
 
 
    
 
This publicity photo released by Fox Searchlight shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus, right, and James Gandolfini together in a scene from the film, "Enough Said." (Associated Press)
 
 

Despite what they thought, Romeo and Juliet had it pretty easy. Sure, their families hated each other, but did they have to deal with stress at work, children going off to college, battling with ex-spouses or worries about dating in middle-age? Putting yourself on the line to become involved in a romance at a certain age is much trickier, because you know exactly how much it's going to hurt if the relationship fails.

That's the case for Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Albert (James Gandolfini, in one of his last roles before his untimely death), the main characters in "Enough Said." Two single Californians who are both dealing with their respective children leaving for college and both feeling at a loss as to what to do with themselves after being devoted to parenting for so long, they begin to tentatively bond and build a romance together. Then, Eva finds out that her client Marianne (Catherine Keener), who has long complained about her oafish slob of an ex-husband, has been talking about Albert all this time.

What I really enjoy about Nicole Holofcener's movies (she both writes and directs here) is that they seem to be populated by actual people you might meet, instead of Hollywood archetypes. Eva is a caring person, but Louis-Dreyfus shows how her defense mechanisms of sarcasm and teasing can make her into her own worst enemy sometimes. Gandolfini's Albert is funny in a self-deprecating way and vulnerable, but he can turn prickly when things go wrong. Marianne could have been a stereotypical New Age poet, but Keener gives her real warmth and complexity.

Holofcener's dialogue shows people using complaints and one-liners as a way of gauging the other person -- to see how far they can go, to see if the other person gets them, to put themselves out there while using the humor as a shield. It's all about that simultaneous fear of getting involved and getting hurt and the need to connect with other people honestly. When the characters aren't honest because they're trying to hedge their bets, that's when people start to get hurt. When characters are willing to be involved with each other and let their guards down, that's when people are able to connect.

"Enough Said" could be called a romantic comedy, but it weaves drama in and out of the story in a very natural way, giving heft to the characters and making you root for people to make it. There aren't any bad guys in the film, just people who sometimes screw up, like we all do in life. Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, "Enough Said" is a fantastic romantic movie for grownups, and I highly recommend it.



 
Anita Casey-Reed is a member of the Cinema 100 Film Society, a volunteer for the Dakota Digital Film Festival and co-host of "Reel Retro" on Dakota Media Access. She lives in Bismarck with her husband and two children.