Two friends had recommended Enough Said (2013), starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in his last major role before his untimely death last summer. The film is a quirky slice-of-life glimpse into the budding romance between two middle-aged, single parents. (And if you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ve basically seen the film. Enough said, indeed.) This past weekend, my husband and I decided to rent a movie on-demand through our cable service, fully expecting a relaxing evening on the couch watching a film.
Then 11 minutes into the film, on their first date, this conversation happened:
Eva: What about you? What do you do?
Albert: I work at the American Library of Cultural History.
Eva: The what?
Albert: Exactly. It’s basically a television library.
However delighted I was that James Gandolfini played a librarian in his last major role, I do admit to shouting at the screen, “NO!!!!! Now I have to take notes! This was NOT the relaxing evening we had planned for!” (I do enjoy being overly dramatic sometimes. But it’s all for you, dear readers. All for you.) And neither friend who had recommended the film had bothered to mention that he worked in a library. Do they not know me at all?! 😉
A half-hour into the film, we are also treated to a view of the (fictional) American Library of Cultural History, as Albert takes Eva on a tour of the archives, his office, and the public viewing and reading room. And in an interview, Julia Louis-Dreyfus revealed that this scene in the library was actually the very first scene that she and James Gandolfini shot together!
Eva: Wow. Amazing. So what do you do with all this?
Albert: You really want to hear this?
Eva: Yeah. I do. What?
Albert: I make sure things are transferred to digital properly, I make sure they’re logged in properly. I write little blurbs, so if anyone under fifty wants to put down their phone and come in here and watch something original and brilliant, they can find what they’re looking for. […]
Eva: So cool.
Albert: It is. I kind of love it. You know, on slow days I can sit downstairs in my office and watch a couple episodes of ‘What’s Happening?’
Then the two share a kiss in the library. Awwwwww… ♥
Side note: It looks like this was filmed in an actual library, but I have not been able to find out which library these scenes were filmed in. The rest of film utilizes real West L.A. locations, like the Lilly’s restaurant.
Interesting to note that the screenplay differs a bit from the final result. In the script, we learn a bit more information about the library; this line, “We have the most comprehensive collection of television shows from 1947 to the present,” didn’t make it to the screen.
There are little glimpses into Albert’s view of his job and the skills he utilizes as a television library archivist. For example, as he and Eva talk outside on their second date, he mentions that his wife thought his job was stupid — which might account for the shyness he shows when first telling Eva about his job and his offhand, “I kind of love it” remark and shrug.
Also, right before the library tour, he also gets to show off his encyclopedic knowledge of Saturday morning television. Eva’s reaction? “That’s incredible!”
And I laughed during their first date, when they are talking about their flaws, and Albert mentions ear hair. Eva, in a teasing manner, mentions there are things one can do to care of that. Albert counters with, “Researched. Taken care of.” That does feel true to what a librarian would say! 😉
However, there are some personality traits that do NOT necessarily match up with a librarian or archivist. A major point of the movie — and part of why he ultimately repulsed his ex-wife — is that he is a self-confessed “disorganized slob.” Whaaaaaaat?
I think the screenwriter and director Nicole Holofcener was trying to make a point in the movie that what people do doesn’t necessarily match who they are. For example, Eva’s friend, Sarah (played by Toni Colette) is a psychiatrist — one with some big-name, celebrity clients — but does not enjoy a particularly harmonious relationship with her husband or her children. And Eva, a masseuse and Zen-like and confident in her work, is quite insecure in her private life. So it does make a kind of sense in that context that Albert reserve his organizational streak for work.
It’s also telling that in the scene in which Albert describes his job, he doesn’t use any standard terms or phrases, like cataloging, archiving, digital preservation, digitization, etc. Instead, he describes his duties more generically: “I make sure things are transferred to digital properly, I make sure they’re logged in properly.” What he’s saying is perfectly understandable, but it just doesn’t quite have the ring of what a real librarian or archivist would say.
Also, Albert is a digital archivist, yet NEVER uses the word “archives.” Here’s a job description for a digital archivist that I snagged online from the Education Portal site, seen below.
Check, check, and check. (For more background on how a digital archivist is similar to, but distinct, from librarians, click here. But for simplification and the purposes of this website, I am still including this role as a reel librarian.)
I did appreciate, however, that the role of Albert is well-rounded and full of realistic flaws. This kind of in-depth characterization is a hallmark of Nicole Holofcener’s films, a few of which I have seen (Walking and Talking, Lovely & Amazing). For example, we learn that Albert doesn’t like onions in his guacamole, preferring to savor the avocados (this turned out to be a big deal for his ex-wife); he’s a bit socially awkward and accidentally flashes his penis on their second date — but cheekily asks, “What did you think?” as he goes off to change pants; he is obviously reluctant to reveal his pet peeve of seeing bare feet; he cannot distinguish between weeds and real grass; and he expresses fatherly pride of his teenage daughter, who’s set to go to design school in the fall.
Also notable is that Eva makes a big deal about how Albert is not able to whisper. He just cannot be that quiet. Is it a coincidence, or was Holofcener giving an inside wink to the audience that a LIBRARIAN does not know how to whisper and BE QUIET? 😉
James Gandolfini plays Albert with sweetness, charm, and empathy. This is tricky, because as we learn more of his bad habits from his ex-wife’s perspective — played with pitch-perfect bitchiness by Catherine Keener, who appears in all of Holofcener’s films — it would be easy to be swayed along with Eva about his flaws. But Gandolfini’s sensitivity in portraying Albert always keeps us on his side.
Albert, then, does not fit into any easily categorized character role. He is truly an atypical portrayal of a reel librarian — a fully rounded, realistic character, one beyond stereotypes. It helps that he is a major character in the film, and we are given time to get to know him and witness more than a few glimpses into his personal life. Therefore, Albert also lands in the Class II category, as he is a major character but his role as an archivist is not necessary to the plot.
And, last but not least, here are a couple of outtakes captured while taking screenshots of the film. I love the expressions that Julia Louis-Dreyfus can come up with!
I like to think that her gesture in the second photo reads, “Enough said!”
And so it is. 😉