There's a moment in "Enough Said," the warm-hearted romantic comedy from talented writer-director Nicole Holofcener, when the knowledge that you're watching one of the late James Gandolfini's last performances becomes a bit overwhelming. Exactly when that moment comes will undoubtedly vary for you, but for me it occurred as his character goes on his first date with Eva, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Once the initial awkwardness is over, they both realize that they're having a good time, and settle into a comfortable rhythm with one another. It's a sweet moment, and the added realization that audiences have lost such an extraordinarily gifted performer adds an extra hint of sadness to an already bittersweet film.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays divorced single mother Eva, a successful massage therapist whose daughter is moving away to college in a few months. Faced with the prospect of an empty house, she's more open than ever to meeting new people to fill the void her daughter will inevitably leave in her life. Attending a cocktail party, she meets the witty, charming, and seemingly put-together Marianne (frequent Holofcener star Catherine Keener), whom Eva agrees to take on as a client. At the same party, Eva meets Albert (Gandolfini), a man she might normally not have looked at twice, but the prickly rapport of their first meeting ends with her agreeing to a date.
As a friendship blossoms between Eva and Marianne, Eva gradually realizes that the ex-husband her friend constantly bitches about during their sessions is the same Albert that Eva is now seeing regularly. At first she thinks that hearing about Albert's faults is a great way to peer into the future of their relationship, allowing her a sneak peek at the little idiosyncrasies that might drive her insane somewhere down the line and giving her the opportunity to decide whether or not it's going to be worth taking a chance on him. But despite truly starting to care for him, she soon can't stop herself from seeing through Marianne's jaded, bitter eyes.
Gandolfini and Dreyfus make for a delightfully unexpected pairing, and they have an excellent chemistry. He gives a gentle teddy bear of a performance, a revelation for those who have only known him as Tony Soprano. She downplays her slightly daffy energy and makes Eva entirely sympathetic, even as she makes some terrible decisions. The film works because we root for their relationship to succeed, and Holofcener's intelligent, funny script underplays every moment, going for truth instead of easy, sitcom-y laughs.