James Gan­dolfini’s sweet na­ture shines in his next-to-last role, writes

Vir­ginia Ro­han

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

AMES Gan­dolfini was such a good ac­tor that as you watch new movie Enough Said – and fall in love with his funny and en­dear­ing char­ac­ter, Al­bert – you can ac­tu­ally for­get for long chunks of screen time that the real man is gone.

Long­time fans of the ac­tor may ap­proach the film with a sense of dread. Will this ro­man­tic com­edy be hard to watch, know­ing that he’ll never get to see the re­ac­tion to his own work in his last lead­ing role? (Ini­tially, yes.) Will I be able to en­joy the movie de­spite that? (Def­i­nitely, yes.) Will I watch it through tear-filled eyes? (At times, per­haps.)

Enough Said is a de­light­ful lit­tle movie about two mid­dle-aged di­vorced peo­ple – Eva and Al­bert – who meet at a party and hit it off. Both are fac­ing empty nests, each with a daugh­ter who is about to start col­lege far away from home. Both en­joy each other’s hu­mour and com­pany.

And both, it turns out, have some­thing else in com­mon: Eva (Ju­lia Louis-Drey­fus) is a masseuse and one of her clients is Mar­i­anne (Cather­ine Keener), a self-in­volved poet who hap­pens to be Al­bert’s ex-wife.

Eva only re­alises this af­ter she’s been see­ing Al­bert long enough to re­ally like him. She de­cides to tell her best friend (Toni Col­lette) but not tell Al­bert, while she lis­tens to Mar­i­anne com­plain about Al­bert and goads her into shar­ing de­tails about why their mar­riage ended.

The more Eva lis­tens to Mar­i­anne’s griev­ances about her ‘‘loser’’ ex – among other things, she says he was fat, un­am­bi­tious and clumsy in bed – the more Eva starts to ques­tion her­self and to look at Al­bert in a dif­fer­ent light, even as the au­di­ence comes to view Mar­i­anne as the true loser.

Gan­dolfini is ter­rific as Al­bert, who’s also a funny guy, in an un­der­stated way.

Any­one who watched him on The So­pra­nos knows Gan­dolfini’s Tony So­prano could be hi­lar­i­ous. But Tony mostly wasn’t aware that he was be­ing funny. Al­bert is.

What’s re­ally touch­ing is Al­bert’s gen­tle­ness and ten­der­ness, and when the truth ul­ti­mately comes out about what Eva knows, Gan­dolfini does a won­der­ful job of show­ing us Al­bert’s wounded heart and pride.

Gan­dolfini loses him­self in Al­bert. The only time I thought of the man be­hind the role was when the char­ac­ters talked about Al­bert be­ing over­weight and lov­ing food too much.

It’s hard not to think of some of the sto­ries peo­ple wrote about Gan­dolfini’s fi­nal meals in Rome be­fore he suf­fered a fa­tal heart at­tack there June 19 – some­thing that leads to dis­tract­ing thoughts of what might have been.

Gan­dolfini’s fi­nal film, the crime drama An­i­mal Res­cue, in which he plays a New York City bar owner, is due out next year. Enough Said – his next-to-last movie – was filmed in Los An­ge­les in Au­gust and Septem­ber 2012. When the film ends, a black ti­tle card says sim­ply, ‘‘For Jim’’.

It’s a lovely trib­ute, fit­ting for a great but hum­ble man.

Enough Said opens to­day

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