Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Gandolfini's Final Act

Published Thursday, 24 October 2013
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There is something especially sad about seeing a recently deceased actor suddenly appear larger than life on the big screen.

The late James Gandolfini's first appearance in the excellent new comedy Enough Said was greeted in the cinema with a collective mournful sigh and then a spontaneous round of applause.

Gandolfini, who died unexpectedly in June, was a great bear of a man and a much loved actor who could be as fearsome as he was loveable. His big presence on TV in the 1990's as the menacing mob boss Tony Soprano, transformed the status of the small screen.

Suddenly television became the cool place for all great actors to play but it was Gandolfini who made it so. He was also an accomplished film actor starring in more than forty movies, so it is only fitting that his cinema swansong is suitably superlative.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Eva, a divorced, single parent who spends her days working as a masseuse and her nights dreading her daughter's impending departure for college. At a party, she unexpectedly meets Albert (James Gandolfini), a sweet, funny and like-minded divorcee also facing an empty nest.

"It's kind of an ugly crowd" says Eva about her fellow revellers. "There's no-one I'm attracted to here either" Albert replies. Despite their reservations, their romance blossoms until Eva befriends Marianne (Catherine Keener), a wealthy new massage client. Marianne is a poet with a perfect life except for one shtick, her "loser" ex-husband and his slovenly lifestyle.

Suddenly, Eva finds herself doubting her own relationship with Albert as she learns the truth about Marianne's Ex. "I don't know what to do, he's kind of fat. He's got a big belly" Eva confesses "He's kind of flabby and middle-aged but so am I."

Enough Said is an adult comedy to savour, a wonderfully sharp and humorous exploration of the muddy path of growing older and looking for love.

Gandolfini is great as the reluctant romantic lead, effortlessly sliding from calamity into comedy. In one marvellous breakfast scene Albert, while wearing loose fitting pyjamas, inadvertently exposes himself (what we would describe as 'the stable door is open and horse is peeping out'). Eva is mortified and so is Albert at first, then he returns grinning "What did you think?" he quips.

Like Gandolfini, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an award winning TV star (Seinfeld/Veep) who unfortunately is rarely seen in leading film roles. But she really is a terrific comedienne, full of funny faces and fresh lines. "I didn't find him attractive at first in your typical way" Eva says of Albert "now I find him sexy."

The same is true of Gandolfini, who may not have been born with movie star looks but was a giant among actors. His premature death at the age of 51 was a tragic loss. He may be gone but he will not be forgotten.

Enough said.

Enough Said (Cert 12a) is now on general release.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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