Eva (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a massage therapist who runs her own business in Los Angeles with a range of regular, quirky clients. She’s doing alright – but her daughter, Ellen (by Tracey Fairaway) is about to leave for college and Eva’s bracing herself for the inevitable moment of separation. Since she divorced from Ellen’s father, things have been a bit quiet on the relationship front and she’s built her life around her work and Ellen. One evening, she goes to a party with her very caring but weird friends Sarah (by Toni Collette) and Will (by Ben Falcone), where she meets a fascinating woman, Marianne (by Catherine Keener), who’s also a potential client. She’s very pleased about that, but the rest of the party is pretty dire. She does strike up a conversation with fellow party-goer Albert (by James Gandolfini) who seems a bit different from the rest – he makes a refreshing change. They form a connection of sorts and see each other again. They’ve both been hurt in the past, but slowly a relationship develops between them and Eva starts to enjoy her life again. Her new client, Marianne, is great too – so things are looking up. Just like Ellen, Albert’s daughter Hilary (by Michaela Watkins) is about to go off to college too – he and Eva face their impending loneliness in their own ways. Things go from strength to strength and Eva starts to settle into her new relationship – until the day she realises that there’s far more commonality here than she’s comfortable with ….
Whilst it is not the movie of the century, it is a very nice piece. The characters are presented beautifully – they’re all sensitive, multi-layered and introduced at a good pace. As Eva, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is (thankfully) not just playing another “Elaine from Seinfeld” – here she’s sweet, liberal, caring and quite lovely. As Albert, James Gandolfini shows his tender side – this is one of his final roles and it’s nice to see that part of him rather than his more “Tony Soprano” based performances. I’m not sure what value the “friend” characters by Toni Collette and Ben Falcone add to the story, perhaps just as another layer of weirdness in Eva’s life. The complication in the story is done well and conclusion isn’t really obvious either, so the ending is nice. Overall it’s a good movie.
Made in 2013. Directed by Nicole Holofcener