Enough Said opens in Berlin on December 19.
It’s not that often that Toni Collette gets the conventional happy ending. What she gets is obsession and friendship (Muriel’s Wedding), the strange son (About a Boy) and spunky daughter (Little Miss Sunshine) and generally dysfunctional families (most of the above plus In Her Shoes).
Films such as these deal in the kind of social contract that involves imperfect relationships rather than visionary individuality. Most, for example, would fail the Bechdel gender bias test that rates films based on whether or not they feature two women talking about something other than men. But maybe it’s because of this that the characters embodied by Collette can also feel uncomfortably real. They do worry, too much, about men: often compromising themselves rather than their relationships.
This may also be the reason why her characters tend to be classified as supporting rather than leading. Compromise is not attractive enough to lead. Take the character of Sarah in Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said, an analyst whose marital frustration expresses itself in the urge to constantly re-decorate. As played by Collette, Sarah has chosen to keep the security and lose the fun. And as a counterpoint to the middle-aged adventure that her friend Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) embarks on with Albert (the late lamented James Gandolfini in his penultimate role), she’s essential as a prototype for the acceptance of irritations that Eva seeks to circumvent by anticipating them.
In this, Eva is unknowingly and comically assisted by Albert’s ex-wife (Catherine Keener): the third corner of a triangle of women taking a hard look at the implications of a solitary dotage.
Enough Said | Directed by Nicole Holofcener (USA 2013) with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Toni Collette, Catherine Keener. Starts December 19
Originally published in issue #122, December 2013.