Enough Said

Waiting till 2013 to give Julia Louis-Dreyfus a starring role in a movie was inexcusable, but it’s a comfort to know that when it finally happened, it was something as wholeheartedly charming as “Enough Said.” This zippy, warm-and-cuddly comedy for grown-ups is a perfect vehicle for JLD’s sweet sarcasm, her throaty laugh, and her comic timing (honed all those years on “Seinfeld,” now on display in HBO’s “Veep”). She plays a divorced L.A. massage therapist named Eva whose life is in flux as she starts tentatively dating someone new at around the same time her daughter (Tracey Fairaway) is about to leave for college. Louis-Dreyfus’ sparky energy is nicely balanced — somewhat surprisingly — by the gentle tenderness of the late James Gandolfini, who plays the new man, Albert, and whose presence here makes an already sublime film even more poignant.

Eva has no interest in Albert when she meets him casually at a party, but a subsequent first date shows them to be eminently compatible as they spend the evening making each other laugh and finding their common interests. This first section of the film, from consistently reliable writer-director Nicole Holofcener (“Lovely & Amazing,” “Please Give”), is disarmingly funny, full of zippy dialogue that feels natural and unwritten. Along the way, Eva also meets a new friend and client, Marianne (Catherine Keener, now five-for-five in Holofcener films), with whom she can bond over complaints about their respective ex-husbands.

We go along cheerfully in this vein for a while before any conflict emerges, and then the plot kicks in and we see where the story is going. Exactly where it’s going, in fact. On paper, it’s a trite romantic-comedy formula, and the film does hit several of those beats (including the “montage of broken-up couple missing each other while a sad pop song plays”). But it’s deeper and more mature than that, genuinely humorous and adorable, and it eventually offers real insight into adult relationships. Someone who’s wrong for you might be perfect for someone else. Some problems can be fixed easily if you address them head-on, while other things will simply never change — and in plenty of cases, that’s OK. Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini may be oddly matched, at least physically — a fact the movie doesn’t shy away from — but they both give such earnest performances that it’s impossible to resist their charm. I didn’t just laugh at this movie, I wanted to curl up with it and snuggle.

A- (1 hr., 33 min.; PG-13, some profanity, some mild sexuality.)