2 Stars – Troubling

Focusing on people who are flawed in ways that cause them pain, Nicole Holofcener creates this tale in which the central characters have few friends and pervasive insecurities.  She writes and directs Enough Said in the style of Woody Allen.  This is understandable when we learn that her stepfather was the long-time producer of Woody Allen’s films and her initial work was on his films.

The story focuses primarily on the romance between Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Albert (James Gandolfini) and their relationships with their college-bound daughters.  As single parents who still carry the pain of their divorces, both are wounded people whose aversion to dating is shared.  Serendipitously meeting at a party, they begin a tender romance that is quickly consummated in sexual intimacy.  Not yet really knowing who the other person truly is, this sexual familiarity leaves their relationship vulnerable to the questions everyone has as a new relationship begins.

Their vulnerable new relationship is jeopardized by Eva’s coincidental introduction to Albert’s ex-wife, Marianne (Catherine Keener).  As a masseuse, Eva begins a professional relationship with Marianne that quickly becomes a friendship.  As both are sharing details of their lives, Eva comes to realize that her new love is Marianne’s ex-husband, but she keeps this fact a secret from both Albert and Marianne.  Insecure and wanting to make sure she knows the truth about Albert and his flaws, Eva uses her friendship with Marianne to hear all the reasons she left Albert.  Predictably, this becomes a turning point in the story and a deadly blow to Eva and Albert’s promising relationship.

Also in this mix of troubled people are the daughters of Eva and Albert.  Both are getting ready to leave for college and both are the products of their parents’ divorces.  Eva’s daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) is struggling with her upcoming break from her close relationship with her mother - a transition that is complicated by Ellen’s best friend’s connection with Eva.  The transition for Albert and his daughter Tess (Bono’s daughter Eve Hewson) is very different.  Having adopted her mother’s snobbish superiority over Albert, Tess loves but looks down on her father.

Although the dialogue is witty and the story plot is engaging, in the final analysis, the shallow nature of the tale is tiring.  With no spirituality or transcendent meaning or purpose in their lives, the characters are struggling without insight or guidance on what makes a fulfilling life.  Without the guidance of counselors and the support of a faith community, their lack of character, honesty and healing from their past causes unnecessary pain and confusion.  This makes an interesting film but an empty and troubled one.

Discussion for those who have seen this film:

1. If a person has no sense of what others have learned about a meaningful life, then it is to be expected that mistakes will be made.  Where do you turn for guidance about the relationships of your life in order to learn from the wisdom of others’ experiences?

2. Eva’s unconscious decision to replace her daughter who is leaving for college with her daughter’s best friend is predictably destructive.  How do you deal with the losses of your life?  How do you keep from replacing people you love and lose with someone else?

3. With whom do you most identify in this film and why?

Posted on April 2, 2014 and filed under 2 STARS, TROUBLING.