Few actors are able to fully ensconce themselves inside a character as James Gandolfini did with Tony Soprano. He simply was that character and that character was him. For six seasons, Gandolfini became Tony Soprano and gave one of the most nuanced, heartfelt, incredible performances ever seen. So much so that public perception of the man tends to lend itself to feeling that Gandolfini must be the dangerous, angry mobster he portrayed so realistically.
Yet to talk to his fellow actors and real-life friends is to hear that he was nothing of the sort. He is often described as a gentle giant, a great big teddy bear. Though he so often played tough guys, the heavy both literally and figuratively, it seems in life the actor was actually very kind and gentle. It is fitting then in his second to last performance in writer/director Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said, Gandolfini gets to play something close to the heart.
In the film, he plays Albert a divorced, self-described slob, who is learning to deal with the fact that his daughter Tess (Eve Hewson) is about to head off to college. He meets Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a middle-aged divorcee coming to terms with her own daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) leaving for school. Their relationship develops slowly but naturally, and realistically.
Eva is a masseuse and one of her new clients is Marianne (Catherine Keener) a classy, stylish poet who also happens to be Albert’s ex-wife. They become friends before that relationship becomes apparent and this becomes the central difficulty of the film. Once Eva realizes that Marianne’s much talked about ex-husband is Albert, she knows she should divulge this information to both parties. But having been hurt before in a difficult divorce she keeps quiet hoping that Marianne might shed light onto any dark secrets Albert might hold thus keeping her from getting hurt again. Instead, Marianne only causes Eva to second guess Albert at every turn and sours their entire relationship. Eventually, when Eva is found out, Albert breaks up with her. There is a reconciliation of sorts, but it is handled in a very natural manner
The entire film, actually, is very natural and realistic. Though at times the plot slips into romantic comedy cliche, the acting of the two leads rises above and creates something quite wonderful. Gandolfini is so sweet natured and funny as Albert it’s a shame he so rarely got to show that side of himself. Louis-Dreyfus too is quite remarkable showing a dramatic side to her acting that we so rarely get to see.
The secondary stories are good as well. Toni Collette plays Eva’s best friend Sarah who gives good relationship advice even when her own marriage is a bit rocky. Tavi Gevinson plays Ellen’s friend Chloe, who becomes a sort-of Ellen replacement for Eva while she is busy getting ready for college.
It is a movie that never does much, but is so realistic and natural in what it does I never really cared. It is funny while not hilarious. Romantic without being schmaltzy. Sad but not tear-jerkingly so. It is a lovely portrait of real characters with real problems played realistically. That might be boring for some, but I found it touching and beautiful.
James Gandolfini will always be remembered as Tony Soprano. But his portrayal of Albert in Enough Said is a loving epitaph for a remarkable career.
Enough Said is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. It looks good throughout without any noticeable flaws. Sticking to the realism of the movie, much of it seems to be shot with natural light and it looks vibrant and nice. It is a pretty quiet and dialogue-driven film so your sound system isn’t gonna get a workout. The dialogue is crisp and clear, and the ambient noise is nuanced and clean. Extras include a six-minute gag real, and some pretty bland promotional features.