It’s probably obvious from the list of films I’ve written about here that romantic comedy isn’t my favourite genre. But I was tempted into this one because Julia Louis-Dreyfus rarely puts a foot wrong, and because it was pretty much James Gandolfini’s last role. It was a good choice, it’s a bit like being enveloped big cosy bear-hug from him while wearing a warm jumper.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is Eva, a masseuse, divorced and of a certain age who is a bit nervous of embarking on a new relationship, but unwilling to spend the rest of her life alone. When she meets Albert, a twinkly-eyed bear of a man who makes her laugh, she’s tempted to dip her toe back in the water. Their fledgling romance is sweet and funny, and when Eva discovers a way to find out whether he’s the man she thinks he is, she makes a slightly foolish but completely understandable decision to find out for sure. If you’ve been bitten once, you want to know whether to expect it again, right? But of course her natural curiosity comes all the way round to bite her on the bum.
There’s nothing not to enjoy here, Louis-Dreyfus is great as Eva and Gandolfini plays Albert with real affection – he probably wouldn’t be your first choice for a romantic lead, but here you’re rooting for him from the start. He has all the gruff tenderness of Tony Soprano with none of the murdering.
Nicole Holofcener has directed a smart, funny comedy for grown-ups who know that life is rarely as perfect as you’d like it to be but who understand about compromises and how to make them. And who know that sometimes those awkward compromises can lead to something wonderful.
Watch this on a rainy day with a large bar of chocolate and prepare to be a bit misty eyed when Gandolfini appears.