In this series, Vulture has been speaking to the screenwriters behind 2013’s most acclaimed movies about the scenes they found most difficult to crack. What pivotal sequences underwent the biggest transformations on their way from script to screen? Today, writer-director Nicole Holofcener discusses the tricky process of determining the final moment in Enough Said, her tender romantic comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. The scene is then excerpted below. (Yes, the ending has SPOILERS.)
I would say the toughest scene was the very last one. That was really the only day we showed up on set not knowing what would stick.
We knew we wanted Albert to pull one over on Eva — or at least try to — with that joke at the end about the night tables, where he tells her that he’s bought them when he really hadn’t. But we shot it so many different ways. There was one where he actually did get night tables — that was bad. We shot it so many different ways. I was trying to figure out, “Should they go in the house? Would that give too much away, like they’re definitely back together? Should they kiss, or is that too much?” There was one ending where she gets out of the car and stands there for a moment, and then Albert opens the door, and she walks into the house, and that’s it. It was really corny — so corny that I couldn’t go through with it. It was just a very tenuous line between schmaltz and making it work.
The version we planned to shoot was where he says, “I’ve got night tables,” and she says, “No, you didn’t. I’ve wised up,” and he laughs. And we thought that was gonna be the ending, that she’s on to him. But then we did this version where I told Julia, “I think you should fall for his joke again.” And she did it, and she smiled and added, “Okay, that’s good,” at the end. It just felt so right. Julia said later that after it was over, she and Jim went into the house and hugged. They felt so wonderful that they’d nailed it, and that is the take that ended up in the movie.
It’s funny, because I’m happy with the endings to my other movies, but there’s generally a pause where people don’t know it’s over. They don’t clap until it goes to black. But with Enough Said, you know clearly that this is the end. It worked perfectly. I’m so happy with the ending, and I can’t imagine it any other way.