Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a masseuse who visits her clients at home, lugging a special table around with her which certain clients do not help her to carry even when they live at the top of a long flight of stairs. She likes her work well enough, but could do without the small irritations it brings such as one man whose breath could be more fragrant or a woman who spends the entire session talking about herself. As a divorced mother of a daughter, Ellen (Tracey Fairaway), about to leave for college in a few weeks for the first time, she has a best friend in Sarah (Toni Collette) who invites her over to socialise, and sometimes encourages her to go to parties, which is why she happens to meet Albert (James Gandolfini). He seems nice enough...
Sadly, director Nicole Holofcener's incisive comedy drama, one of many in her filmography, was overshadowed by events in real life when her star James Gandolfini unexpectedly died shortly after making it; she dedicated the work to him, and that was a nice gesture as it demonstrated a side of him that fans of his television work in The Sopranos would not have been used to. At least you could observe he got to star in a film where he wasn't killing anyone, and was actually portraying a really nice guy, showing off some range he was not always allowed to play when casting directors preferred him for the tough guy roles he had found fame with, and in Enough Said there was a very sweet nature to his character.
Which makes what happens all the more saddening, as there was a twist about a third of the way through that painted Albert in a different light. The message appeared to be that making up your own mind about people when you have met them was your best bet for getting through life, for if you listened to gossip then you were not getting a completely three-dimensional take on them, but Holofcener made it clear that was not always the easiest thing to do, particularly as in Eva's case when you're trying to please two different individuals at once who may not hold the same views, and indeed may be in opposition. That was where the comedy arose from, but this wasn't exactly a traditional farce as there was a genuine thread of sadness running through it.
Eva wants to take the path of least resistance, so avoids conflict, yet when she starts getting to know Albert she really clicks with him which makes the twist all the more awkward. Holofcener additionally seemed to be making the point, perhaps an obvious one but brave for a supposed romantic comedy, that nobody was perfect, not even the person in your life who was apparently perfect for you, and that eventually if you stay with them they are going to do something which will irritate you, or go to the other extreme and repulse you. When Eva's new friend Marianne (the inevitable Catherine Keener) starts explaining in hyper-critical terms why she and her ex-husband had to split up, it's a word like "repulsive" she uses, and Eva can sympathise when her ex (Toby Huss) is not exactly her favourite person in the world either.
"How did I ever get together with this man in he first place?" is the question preying on the minds of the divorcées, just as the male equivalents wonder much the same, and the fear no matter how happy you start out in a relationship that the only direction it has to go from there is down is uppermost in the thoughts of all these middle-aged folks. The children are a complication too, as Eva wouldn't like to see Ellen make the same mistakes she has, but then she doesn't want her to even try, as she would much prefer she would stay with her mother rather than go off into the big, bad world. This anxiety of being left alone is what fuels much of the drama, and why Eva perseveres with Albert even with her misgivings, which may not be entirely fair. It's a message of compromise Holofcener was putting across, yet that did not stop the uneasy notion that getting along with others, be they partners, friends or otherwise, is far harder work than it should be for too many. When this was funny, it was very funny, but it might be too painful or exasperating for some. Music by Marcelo Zarvos.