There's an amusing wistfulness to Enough Said, Nicole Holofcener's latest exploration of women and love. And because it co-stars the late James Gandolfini, you can throw in a touch of melancholy, a sort of dark cloud that hangs over an otherwise light and hopeful romance among those pushing 50.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Eva, a long-divorced single mom and massage therapist. Her job is a bore, her daughter (Tracey Fairaway) is about to go to college, and she's resigned to the shrinking dating scene.
Eva joins her friends (Toni Collette, Ben Falcone) for a party. That's where she meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), who could be a new customer and maybe even a friend.
Eva also meets the portly, frumpy Albert (Gandolfini), who clicks with her because they both find "no one at this party I'm attracted to." They're both down on rude "younger people." He finds her random, inappropriate wisecracks funny, and he's able to make her laugh, too.
They date, even though she's hesitant. She tries not to judge the way he loads his low-fat yogurt with M&Ms or look askance at his Sunday sweatpants-for-brunch routine.
That becomes tricky when Eva realizes that the ex-husband her Marianne is constantly griping about is named Albert, too. Her "Fat Albert" must be Marianne's Albert.
That's a slim coincidence to build a movie on, but Louis-Dreyfus makes the most of it. She lets us see the wheels turn as Eva starts looking for the same faults her friend saw in Albert, and then tries to figure out how to address this "problem" of revealing to one that she knows the other.
Louis-Dreyfus — who won her fourth Emmy Award on Sunday, for Veep — wears Eva's neediness on her sleeve, reaching for her sounding board (Collette's character is a shrink), clinging to a teenager who actually listens, her daughter's best friend (Tavi Gevinson).
What's fun here, to a point, is the collision of sensibilities. Louis-Dreyfus has made this sort of lovelorn joker her specialty, with a Seinfeld-polished bag of expressions, laughs and acting moves. Holofcener even cast one of Louis-Dreyfus' Seinfeld boyfriends (Toby Huss, who played Jack, "The Wiz") to play her ex-husband.
Work Louis-Dreyfus' shtick into Holofcener's cycle of screen journeys through life, which includes Lovely & Amazing, Friends With Money and Please Give, co-starring her muse, Keener — films that capture her heroines' shifting priorities as they age and the endless search for love and happiness — and what comes out is wistful, a shallow character trying not to be, who is upset when others see past her facade and can judge her the way she judges them.
Gandolfini is charming and winning but the butt of too many weight/calorie-counting jokes to let us forget he died — overweight and too young — in June.
That knowledge doesn't hurt Enough Said. It actually deepens an otherwise lightweight romance. But unlike Friends With Money, where Holofcener and Keener teamed with Jennifer Aniston, the sitcom star here doesn't transform into a new character. Apparently at Holofcener's urging, Louis-Dreyfus just tends to overwhelm the movie with her regular (if charming) bag of tricks, as if that's enough. And it isn't.
PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity. Fox Searchlight. 1:35. Kentucky Theatre.