How many divorced women have fantasized about asking their boyfriend’s ex-wife what he’s really like?
Sure would save time. Maybe years!
You’d avoid the breakup anguish too because you’d have the goods on the guy before you got emotionally involved. And who knows him better than his ex?
That’s the irresistible opportunity presented to Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in “Enough Said” when she accidentally meets and then becomes friends with Marianne (Catherine Keener), the ex-wife of her new boyfriend Albert (the late James Gandolfini).
Middle-aged TV historian
Albert is a TV archivist with an incredible passion for old TV shows going all the way back to Sid Caesar and Jack Benny. “I was kind of raised like a veal,” he says. “I was put in a dark room and fed and told not to move.”
Albert is also overweight and balding but that doesn’t make him any less attractive to Eva (or to women in the audience, including this writer).
Middle-aged love is sexy
Eva says that Albert is kind of flabby but she admits that “our middle-aged-ness is comforting and sexy to me.”
That’s one of the best things about the movie; it’s realistic. Anyone who has ever fallen in love after having been married, raised kids and divorced, knows that it is the sweet imperfections of their new partner that are the most irresistible.
(the late, great James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
Albert is very dear, very sexy and he makes Eva laugh. They have a wonderful time together, including in bed, until she gets the lowdown from his ex, Marianne:
Albert is clumsy in bed, terrible in bed. In fact, Marianne was “completely repulsed by him sexually.” She got the bedside tables in their divorce and he has yet to replace them, which shows that he is not building a new life for himself. He doesn’t even eat guacamole the right way! He is a “loser.”
In spite of her attraction to Albert, Eva starts to become critical of him, turning into a mini-Marianne. Things get even worse when Albert discovers that the two women are friends.
Albert was really hurt by Marianne (she never respected his job and she cheated on him) so this is just too much. “Sounds corny,” he tells Eva, “but you broke my heart and I’m too old for that.”
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it
Turns out when you get the scoop on your guy from his ex, the information can be a tad negative.
Eva was trying to avoid getting hurt again (something any divorced mid-life woman can understand) but she got hurt anyway and wounded a wonderful guy.
There are no shortcuts and no safety nets when you date after divorce. But that’s a good thing. Allowing yourself to feel again is part of it.
The best middle-aged love stories are as sweet and tender, as wild and raw and as unpredictable, as anything you experienced at 20. It can get messy but you’ll never feel more alive.
If you get as lucky as Eva and Albert, go for it.
c 2014 Kathy Barthel