Review by Dustin Putman
2 stars out of 4
"Enough," directed by Michael Apted (1999's "The World is Not Enough"),
is a manipulative feminist empowerment tale thinly posing as a serious
drama about spousal abuse. As the story specifics increasingly strain
the breaking point of plausibility, you are left to patiently wait
around for an ending that has been plainly telegraphed in all of the
promotional trailers and ads. At the center is Jennifer Lopez (2001's
"Angel Eyes"), captivating to follow even when what surrounds her
is strictly by-the-numbers.
Slim (Jennifer Lopez) is a cafe waitress trying to make ends meet
when she meets and falls in love with a wealthy, charming contractor
named Mitch (Billy Campbell). After a blissful marriage and the birth
of their daughter, Gracie (Tessa Allen), everything appears to be
going right for them until Slim discovers Mitch has been cheating
on her. After confronting him about it, he turns into a horrible monster
who begins beating her and insisting that he has every right to treat
her however he pleases. Fearing her life, Slim takes Gracie and goes
on the run, changing their names and attempting to start a new life
in Michigan. No matter what she does, however, she can't escape Mitch
and his crooked cop friends, who have begun tracking her down.
The first act has a light, romantic tone that intentionally tries
to mislead the viewer. When Mitch's personality takes a 180-degree
turn for the worse, the film becomes a thriller in which Slim can
barely manage to stay one step ahead of her dangerous husband, who
believes he can get anything he wants. The final-third transforms
into a crowd-pleasing, if silly, revenge fantasy, in which Slim comes
to the conclusion that her only chance for a peaceful life is to fight back.
"Enough" shares undeniable similarities to 1991's "Sleeping With the
Enemy," starring Julia Roberts, and, to a certain extent, 1996's "Eye
for an Eye." Really, it is simply an amalgamation of spare parts from
other pictures, without the distinction of much personal originality.
The plot developments throughout are particularly improbable, as Mitch
apparently has the power of knowing exactly where Slim is at any given
moment. Too often director Michael Apted and screenwriter Nicholas
Kazan (1999's "Bicentennial Man") are so interested in the requirements
of their conventional plot that they forget to concentrate on the
authenticity of the characters and the seriousness of the situation they are in.
Jennifer Lopez turns in a committed, sympathetic performance as the
put-upon Slim. The ultimate frustration and fear she goes through
as she tries to protect herself and her daughter is the film's strongest
aspect. When she develops fighting skills and turns the tables on
Mitch in the climax, Lopez is never less than believable. Billy Campbell
(TV's "Once and Again"), as Mitch, plays a truly despicable human
being, so downright evil that his part turns into almost a caricature.
Nonetheless, Campbell pulls it off. As young daughter Gracie, Tessa
Allen (TV's "Providence") is an adorable child who has some scene-stealing
moments, although many of her dramatic scenes subtly work around showing
her face, as if to hide her weaknesses.
The supporting cast, which includes the invaluable Juliette Lewis
(1999's "The Other Sister"), as Slim's best friend, Ginny; Dan Futterman
(2000's "Urbania"), as Slim's good-natured ex-boyfriend, Joe; and
Noah Wyle (2001's "Donnie Darko"), as Mitch's villainous partner-in-crime,
Robbie, are inadequately handled in the screenplay, sporadically popping
up without the chance of forming three-dimensional figures.
"Enough" is a pleasantly amusing and occasionally crafty diversion,
but its constant reliance on cliches brings it down. Furthermore,
even if the butt-kicking finale is fun to watch on a visceral level,
the way in which it chooses to wrap itself up is too tidy and shallow
for its own good. A curious decision was made at some point to add
title cards in between sections of the movie, such as "They Meet,"
"To Have and to Hold," and "You Can Run," but these chapter inserts
are completely forgotten midway through. Had they continued until
the end, it might have worked, but as is, it is a device that serves
no purpose. Lopez makes Slim a heroine worth caring about, but the
contrivances she is trapped in make "Enough" an utterly conventional
thriller for non-thinking audience members.
Copyright © 2002 Dustin Putman