The latest romantic/comedy/drama from filmmaker Nicole Holofcener stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Eva. She’s a single mom of a High School graduate who was recently dumped and is now looking for a new boyfriend. She meets a nice and charming slob named Albert (the late James Gandolfini). Eva works as a masseuse and becomes close friends with one of her new clients, Marianne (Catherine Keener), who complains nonstop about her ex-husband. Eva’s life seems to be going great. Her job is awesome and her new boyfriend makes her happy. But things get complicated when she finds out that Marianne’s “lousy” ex-husband is her boyfriend Albert.
This isn’t one of those movies that’s going to blow your mind. But it’s pleasant enough to recommend to any fan of light romantic comedies. Sure, this movie has about as many clichés and typical plot developments as an average sitcom, but the two lead actors make this charming enough to endure. I also found it very refreshing to see a romance involving 2 characters approaching 50, as opposed to Hollywood’s latest young hot actors. I can never relate to those types of movies. Here, the people seem real enough, even if the situations are a little far-fetched.
The chemistry between Louise- Dreyfus and Gandolfini is great. Even though they are so different, the 2 actors make it easy to believe that they are drawn to one another. She’s neat and organized, and he’s kind of a slob, but it works. It’s only when Marianne’s opinion of Albert is known that Eva begins doubting that she made the right choice. I found that to be an interesting angle. Someone who may be a horrible choice for one person to date, may be a perfect fit for another. There is also a subplot involving Eva’s daughter and her friend that kind of gets in the way, but it’s still handled well.
The acting is the reason this clichéd film works as well as it does. Louis-Dreyfus proves that she is a charismatic leading lady. It’s a shame that Hollywood hasn’t used her as a lead actress until now. I could totally see her in many of those Sandra Bullock movies from the late-90’s. She needs to stay the hell away from Television and get up on the big screen for the rest of her career. James Gandolfini is also quite good. It’s a low-key performance, but even though he’s a slob, he’s very likable and charming. I love watching these 2 actors play off of each other. Catherine Keener is a bitch again. Shocker! She does the part well, but could do it in her sleep. Toni Collette tends to overact a bit as Eva’s unhappily married best friend. Tracey Fairaway is stunningly beautiful as Eva’s daughter. She gives a very real and genuine performance here. I hope to see her in more flicks.
The direction by Holofcener is fine. Nothing spectacular. Maybe just above Television quality. Her script isn’t all that original either, but like I said, the actors make everything work. I don’t want to discredit the writer/director altogether. She definitely chose the right cast for her film.
This bittersweet romantic comedy is a low-key breath of fresh air. Something different to offer than your typical Blockbuster or Oscar-bait movie that populate the multiplexes during the Fall movie season. It’s a solid romance made for an older audience featuring terrific performances from Louise-dreyfus and Gandolfini. It’s not something I’ll be rushing to see again, but I’m glad I saw it. It’s a nice, pleasant little movie. ★★★ (out of ★★★★)
– Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity.
– Running time: 1hr 32min.