Five feature films in, we feel we know director Nicole Holofcener's milieu. Woody Allen's former apprentice – and the stepdaughter of Annie Hall producer Charles Joffe – has often, not unreasonably, been compared to her mentor. Her tart observations, barbed dialogue and affluent subjects would almost certainly feel at home with Hannah and her Sisters (a film made with Holofcener in the editing suite).
Holofcener's sensibility and her ability to craft and depict hassled professional women has, rightly, made her a popular guest helmer on shows such as Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls and Parks and Recreation. The downside of her skill-set, however, is that the everyday troubles of well-heeled folks can leave viewers stranded somewhere between apathetic and annoyed.
The phrase "First World Problems" may be overused and comically spent in Hashtag-ville, but it still has relevance for the antique-dealing, property-buying New Yorkers at the centre of Please Give (2010) and everyone who isn't Jennifer Aniston's jobbing maid in Friends with Money (2006).
Enough Said is, superficially, a lighter confection than its immediate predecessors. The film stars Seinfeld's most likeable worrywart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as Eva, a masseuse who is dating James Gandolfini's TV historian while rubbing down his poet ex-wife (Keener) in a professional capacity. It soon becomes perfectly clear that the poetess' gripes about her former husband are poisoning
Eva's romance. But she's hooked on the info.
Dancing a two-step not unlike the worming, squirming moves of her Seinfeld days, Louis-Dreyfus is excellent as she repeatedly ducks out on her beau and client's daughter (This Must Be The Place's Eve Hewson) and does everything she can to avoid everyone finding out about everyone else.
It sounds slight and farcical yet Enough Said adds up to something greater than the sum of its parts. The central triumvirate – Dreyfus, Keener and Gandolfini in his last significant role – are superb; smaller roles (see Ms Hewson and Toni Colette) are invested with unexpected detail and deft performance.
The shiny, likeable finished product lacks the gravitas of
something like Please Give, wherein Catherine Keener, the director's resident muse, grappled with the idea that her teenage daughter wanted overpriced branded jeans and, by extension, a much Bigger Issue: how can affluent westerners live well? But the film is surprisingly affecting just the same.