2013 Running time: 93 Certificate: 12 Rating: 4

Synopsis

Divorced masseuse Eva (Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus) hooks up with fellow single parent Albert (James Gandolfini) at a party. As their romance blossoms, she also befriends a client, bohemian poetess Marianne (Catherine Keener), another divorced mother who harbours an unhealthy obsession with her slobbish ex. Writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Lovely and Amazing) crafts a witty dissection of second-time relationships with wonderfully nuanced performances from Louis-Dreyfus and the late, great Gandolfini.

Director

  • Nicole Holofcener

Cast

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus

  • James Gandolfini

  • Catherine Keener

  • Toni Collette

Review

The emotional minefield navigated by battle-scarred divorcees getting involved again proves a bitterly fertile ground for what pans out as a formidable case study for Relate.

Frazzled divorcee Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) makes a buck lugging a massage table around the Los Angeles homes of self-obsessed clients while prepping herself for the imminent departure of her teenage daughter to college.

Following a painful split from her husband, she reluctantly finds herself back on the market only to surprise herself when she's attracted to Albert (Gandolfini), a sweetly droll, if overweight, single dad who's also emerging from a traumatic divorce.

At the same time Eva forges an unlikely new friendship with successful poetess (and buddy of Joni Mitchell) Marianne (Keener), yet another divorcee who constantly regales her with sex-less tales of her appalling ex-husband.

Eva sceptically damaged singleton comes unstuck with Albert when it dawns on her that Marianna's catty observations refer to none other than Albert himself...and as the list of his annoying habits piles up she finds she can't ignore them.

The joyous thrust of this thoroughly entertaining - and often poignant - comedy thrives on the sparkling chemistry between Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus, a romance pitched at that often overlooked demographic - the middle-aged divorcee.

However, it's Gandolfini, revelling in a role a million milion miles from Tony Soprano, that strikes the saddest chord (this was his second-last movie) as his cuddly, twinkly-eyed bear of a man effortlessly charms.

He once commented that he was "basically like a 260lb Woody Allen." After watching this, you can see why.

Tim Evans

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