The writer-director Nicole Holofcener isn't as much of a known brand as Woody Allen, but she deserves to be.
For the past 17 years Holofcener, who got her start as one of Allen's apprentice editors, has been making smart, sharply observant comedies about women and their relationships that manage to be both warmly amusing and stingingly on-point.
Now, with "Enough Said," Holofcener has made her most winning and widely accessible movie to date, the perfect film to satisfy longtime fans who follow her with Harry Potter-like obsession, as well as initiates who are new to her singular brand of droll, self-aware insight.
Movie preview: 'Enough Said'
Such Holofcener classics as "Walking and Talking," "Lovely and Amazing," "Friends With Money" and "Please Give" still await, the better for their deliciously sardonic takes on friendship, family and class anxiety to deliver wallops of astonished, gratified recognition.
For now, we can enjoy the first viewing of "Enough Said" together and witness first-hand its many bittersweet gifts.
Happy-saddest among them is the fact that "Enough Said" marks one of the final appearances of the late James Gandolfini, here playing a frumpy, overweight academic named Albert who embarks on an awkward romance with Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a masseuse who, like Albert, is the divorced parent of a teenaged daughter about to leave home for college.
After a near-disastrous first meeting at a cocktail party, Albert and Eva begin dating, their simpatico senses of humor bouncing off each other with spontaneous, almost telepathic ease and barely masking mutual anxieties regarding intimacy, independence, fragile self-worth and spreading middle-aged bodies.
Thoroughly banishing any remaining vestiges of Tony Soprano, Gandolfini comes utterly disarmed to a role that he tackles with superb sensitivity and naked vulnerability.