Sept. 25--IT'S A testament to "Enough Said," which opens here Friday, that the film's many professional subtexts don't overwhelm it as an enjoyable moviegoing experience.
There's the late James Gandolfini, so famous as a tough guy, who brilliantly plays a nervous, self-effacing romantic lead.
There's Emmy-winning Julia Louis-Dreyfus, so famous as one of TV's great sitcom comediennes, finally getting to display her dramatic chops as a star on the big screen.
And there's the writing and direction of Nicole Holofcener, so famous on the indie-film circuit for her unique voice in films like "Lovely & Amazing," "Friends With Money" and "Please Give," who may finally hit the mainstream with her new, for lack of a better term, "rom-com."
The stars and director all still seemed a bit shell-shocked (by the death of Gandolfini, in June, and the film's acclaim) when they met with the press two weeks ago at the Toronto International Film Festival.
To quiet the elephant in the room, Louis-Dreyfus, Holofcener and co-stars Catherine Keener and Toni Collette first had to talk about Gandolfini.
Keener said that she knew Gandolfini from his role in "Where the Wild Things Are" and not due to his iconic TV gangster. (She played The Mom; he supplied the voice for Carol, the monster.)
"I don't think of him as Tony Soprano," Keener said -- so convincingly that she blanked on the show's name.
"He felt very undeserving of this role," said Louis-Dreyfus, joking that the bearish actor had told Holofcener, "If you feel like calling Clooney . . ."
"But that made him even more perfect for the part," she added.
"It was uncomfortable for him to play a sought-after leading man," Holofcener said. "He felt very raw."
Collette echoed that thought, saying, "I think he felt very vulnerable playing someone vulnerable."
Holofcener said that, since Gandolfini's death, she sometimes cringes watching the movie's jokes about the actor's weight.
"I feel so mean," she said, shaking her head. "But he knew he had a big belly, and he had no intention of not eating. He even came up with the line, 'Can you breathe when I'm on top of you?' "
Asked if Gandolfini's death hindered postproduction in any way, she shook her head.
"No, the movie was done," Holofcener said. "But I saw him two weeks before he died."
Gandolfini had come in to do some overdubbing of lines, "just in time," she said, sadly.
As for Louis-Dreyfus, she seemed giddy with excitement about her role and her director. She said that movies were not really an option for her for a long time because "for many, many years I was doing a TV series that was very time-consuming."
At the time, the actress added, she had two young children, and she wasn't going to spend her "Seinfeld" hiatus working.
Louis-Dreyfus said that she came to "Enough Said" because she was a fan of Holofcener's prior films.
"I love her character-driven, quirky, raw voice," she said. "And her work is kind. It's about understanding flawed people through kind eyes.
"A lot of my character Eva was on the page, but I'm an improviser, and Nicole loves that. I would love to keep working with her. Her awkward, wince-y, shameful moments make me laugh."
Keener added, "Nicole writes with such economy -- so honest, real. And now it's great that people are recognizing it.
"She's pretty fu--in' awesome," said Collette of her director. "She creates this really relaxed atmosphere."
All the actresses blanched at the "woman director," "female Woody Allen" label often hung on Holofcener.
"Someone who's that real and that present is unique regardless of gender," Keener said. "I think there are women and men who could learn from Nicole."
Said Collette: "It doesn't matter if she has a penis or a vagina."
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