ROMANTIC COMEDY; 1hr 33min
STARRING: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener
The happy couple: Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus
Writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money) so captures the awkward ebb and flow of midlife dating in her finely tuned take on love that by the time they’ve finished their first dinner, you feel you’ve known Eva and Albert (Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini) forever. The endearing stars have a great deal to do with that, too, playing off each other with a cheery ease that makes Gandolfini’s premature passing, three months before the film’s debut, all the more sorrowful.
When masseuse Eva and TV librarian Albert — both divorced, both with college-age daughters — meet at a party, sparks don’t fly right away. But he’s a lovely guy, they totally get each other and they soon settle into a dovetailed fit that’s both a comfort and a buzz. The enormous hitch is that Eva’s new friend/client Marianne (Keener) is Albert’s embittered ex-wife, and neither she nor he is aware of Eva’s dual play. Hooked and appalled, Eva can’t help herself even as Marianne’s negativity chips away at her perception of Albert. You care about all this because Eva and Albert are so lived-in and human, their regular lives yielding profound relationship truths.