Enough Said

The title gives the impression of a movie fed up with speech. And its dialogue feels driven by pity for speaking. There are few lines whose comedy is seperable from the empathetic cringe they induce. But are words really the issue?

The warp of the movie is awkwardness, the weft, aggression. When Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) blurts something blunt, she gives a shot of color to a surprisingly drab California cloth of mildly painful fake warmth. The pain is nothing more fantastical than everyday interpersonal drain--that seemingly impossible rule that, contrary to Paul McCartney's maxim, the love you take is just a little bit less than the love you make. As a messuse, Eva gives the strength of her hands and in return she puts up with her clients' unwelcome intimacy. They babble, they groan, they have bad breath, they don't offer to help her with her massage table up two flights of stairs. The debt is repaid in money, as it tends to be. The math may not work, but it has to.

(One needs a hand massage to give a hand massage.)

More than a decade later, I still remember Ben Bova's Mars for the dust. It got into everything. Well-marinated in their own granular atmosphere, these are not characters that connect. The closeness of Eva and Albert's (James Gandolfini) dates is just close mutual scrutiny, with a bit of irony to make the lines they're drawing around each other bearably sketchy. Their flirting is somehow composed of anti-play, that substance that can be found in children's assessments of their peers.

Throw a few of these miserable couples together, and we get an exchange of cheery bile (a dinner party). Every pet peeve is aired; everyone lives up to their cariacature.

But Enough Said performs a jaw-dropping feat of instrumental delusion. I have too strong a desire for truth-telling, so I was revolted, but I have to congratulate the movie's one act of imagination. It might live, after all. Relationships are only hard because they can be "poisoned" by too much critical talk. It's true that once criticism gets rolling, it's hard to stop, but here there's a convenient scapegoat: Albert's ex wife, who has aired everything she couldn't stand about him. It's perfect for Eva. She gets an actual person on whom to offload all her negativity. She doesn't have to partition herself.

7 November 2013