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An abused woman discovers that the dream man she married isn't who she thought he was. She and her daughter try to escape (aided by her previous boyfriend), but he pursues her relentlessly. Fearing also for the safety of her daughter, she decides that there's only one way out of the marriage: kill him. Written by
The film you'll find yourself watching most of when it comes on TV
If judged on the basis of a competent thriller about domestic violence and female empowerment, Michael Apted's Enough is a pretty scattershot mess of incredulous circumstances, flat characters, and questionable decisions made by said characters. If judged on the basis of a pulpy novel come to life, Enough becomes a very watchable piece of fluff, one with an impressive focus on pacing and helplessness. This is one of the few films that comes along in my queue where I am simply torn between my personal fondness for the material and the plot, but my slight disappointment with the end result.
The film revolves around a Los Angeles waitress named Slim (Jennifer Lopez), who slaves away at a diner with her best friend Ginny (Juliette Lewis). One day, a man (Noah Wyle) comes in with a plan to take Slim out on a date until another customer, Mitch Hiller (Billy Campbell), reveals that he is only doing so because of a bet he made with his friend. Slim is taken by Mitch's low-key heroism and the two decide to begin dating. We see their relationship evolve into a marriage with a young daughter (Tessa Allen) in montage before we zero in after the two have been married for sometime. Mitch begins cheating on Slim with a coworker, and once Slim catches him red-handed, Mitch doesn't respond in the usual way of defending himself or claiming he has a problem. He justifies it by telling her that there are some sacrifices she needs to make being that she now has a husband who provides for her and their daughter much more than she could ever provide for just herself. When Slim retaliates, Mitch responds with a brutal punch. And so it begins.
Slim is flabbergasted, but her options are dreadfully minimal. Divorce is not an option because Mitch won't let her go, running away only works for a short time, since Mitch has several friends and private investigator connections that can find her just as quickly as she can run, and her increasing time away from Mitch only helps him during the inevitable custody battle for Gracie. Slim tries everything, from inquiring the help of Ginny on several occasions, assuming a late woman's identity, to even showing up at her wealthy, estranged father's (Fred Ward) doorstep to beg for money. He gives her $12, as opposed to his usual $6, because not only does he want Slim to "but herself a sandwich," he wants Gracie to have one too.
If absolutely nothing else, screenwriter Nicholas Kazan (writer of Bicentennial Man) conveys Slim's helplessness pretty well here, showing just how complicated it is for women in abusive relationships. It's hard enough to survive, let alone provide, with this kind of albatross, and never does Kazan blame Slim, demean her, or disrespect her character. Say what you want about how incredulous the film gets with certain situations, particularly Slim's situation with her father and Mitch's goons having nothing better to do than meticulously follow their friends' wife's every move, but Kazan always treats his protagonist as someone with a lot of options that all, sooner or later, end in dead-ends.
In addition, Kazan and Apted work well in pacing Enough, crafting a film that's frequently unsettling and methodical, as we're given time to spend with both Slim and Gracie. The trouble with this is that time showing Slim and Mitch's relationship together is so desperately limited; one scene they're meeting for the first time under a downright absurd circumstance, the very next they're married. One can infer just by logic and situational probability that Mitch had to have shown a protective or aggressive side during their time together before he hit her, so it's strange as to how Slim, a perfectly reasonable and initially hard-hearted person, would fall in love so quickly with a man she barely knew.
These are certain details that are difficult to look past, and bog down Enough to where it doesn't succeed as anything other than pulpy entertainment. Even the end scene, which feels like grown ups doing their best impression of Home Alone, as slickly conceived and as satisfying as it is, feels corny and all too convenient. Once again, it's burdened by Kazan rushing to finish up the film, glossing through the methodical process of Slim's confidence building and training, to get to the credits before the two-hour mark since much of the time was spent on conjuring up suspense. While Kazan and Apted did fine work in one area of Enough, the area I initially assumed would lack, they did that part extraordinarily well and liberally and simultaneously handicapped any kind of buildup to the cause and the concluding effect/end-result. This makes the film feel significantly lopsided.
In the end, I can't shake Enough off my hands as quickly and as cleanly as most thrillers. This early 2000's era brought some truly good mysteries and suspenseful films; the Final Destination franchise began, for one, and even one-off thrillers like One Hour Photo instilled an uncommonly disturbing amount of fear and dread in their audiences. Simply put, even with all the shortcomings and lopsided chronological problems considered, Enough is the kind of film that, if time is in my favor and I find it on Television about forty minutes in, I will probably watch it till the end.
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Noah Wyle, and Fred Ward. Directed by: Michael Apted.
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