Enough Said (12A) ***

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini star in this sweet tale of romantic entanglement.

The sudden death of actor James Gandolfini in June, three days before he was due to be honoured at an Italian film festival, adds poignancy to Nicole Holofcener’s wonderful romantic comedy.

James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus share winning rapport in Enough Said.

James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus share winning rapport in Enough Said.

Gandolfini was a formidable talent, winning three Emmy awards and two Golden Globes for his signature role as a conflicted mobster in The Sopranos. He might well be feted, posthumously, for his disarming portrayal of a divorced man on the hunt for second-chance love in Enough Said. Wearing his heart on his character’s sleeve in every frame, Gandolfini leaves us in a swoon when he sweetly confesses to his new girlfriend (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), ‘I kind of adore you already.’

Their molten onscreen chemistry induces a giddy smile. Every time they snatch covert glances, when they think the other person isn’t looking, we see a twinkle of joy in their eyes. Even their bedroom scenes feel genuine: slightly awkward, tender and underscored with flashes of humour. It’s a fitting swansong for an actor, who was unafraid to lay himself emotionally bare for his art.

Massage therapist Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is separated from her husband Jason (Phillip Brock) but still lives with their beautiful daughter, Ellen (Tracey Fairaway), who is poised to fly the nest and head to college. Impending solitude sends Eva into an emotional whirl and she seeks comfort in the company of her best friend Sarah (Toni Collette), whose marriage to husband Will (Ben Falcone) is beset with the usual gripes and bickering.

They invite Eva to a party where she meets a television archivist called Albert (James Gandolfini). A nervous first date sparks tender romance that promises to blossom into something far deeper. At the same party, Eva woos a new client, a celebrated poet called Marianne (Catherine Keener), who doesn’t have a nice word to say about her ex-husband or his bizarre eating habits. Eva realises with a jolt that Marianne’s ex-husband Albert is the very same man she is dating.

Secretly stuck in the middle between Albert and Marianne, Eva struggles to reveal her coincidental connection to the feuding former spouses, while covertly gathering details about their failed relationship.

Galvanised by the winning rapport of Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said is a valentine to the transformative power of love and to the film’s leading man. ‘For Jim’ reads a simple dedication during the end credits.

Holofcener’s dialogue trips off the tongue, peppered with some great one-liners, and we get a lump in our throats when Albert invariably discovers Eva’s deception and laments, ‘I know it sounds corny but you broke my heart and I’m too old for that nonsense’.

A quirky subplot involving Ellen’s best friend Chloe (Tavi Gevinson) adds more colour.

Love hurts whether you’re an impetuous teenager or old enough to know better.