ZERO STARS/**** Image A Sound A
starring Jennifer Lopez, Bill Campbell, Tessa Allen, Juliette Lewis
screenplay by Nicholas Kazan
directed by Michael Apted
by Walter Chaw So try this one on for size: a woman wronged by a world of evil men recuperates, studiously fails to call the police (too many men on the police force--men=bad; we'll be returning to this equation often), and finally tracks down her tormentors with the express purpose of murdering them. This not only describes Michael Apted's Enough, but also Meir Zarchi's infamous exploitation flick I Spit on Your Grave, the main difference between the two being that Enough tries very hard to hide the fact that it's an ugly bit of repugnant vigilantism masquerading as a feminist uplift drama.
In that sense, Enough is actually the more abhorrent film of the two--like Joel Schumacher's 8MM before it, Enough is that unforgivable breed of mainstream exploitative trash that hides behind hot-button issues to peddle its slasher-flick mentality and decidedly lowbrow aspirations. I have nothing against a good exploitation film, Takeshi Miike's Audition being a recent and brilliant example, but I have something against a movie that hopes its idiot demographic won't notice the wave of vile stink slopping off the screen. Enough is a dishonest film; it is a revolting film. Enough is also irresponsible and ridiculous in equal measure. It is another attempt by J-Lo to follow the Julia Roberts road to box-office nirvana (The Wedding Planner ransacks My Best Friend's Wedding; Angel Eyes smarms off The Pelican Brief; Enough leeches off Sleeping With the Enemy)--forgetting that Ashley Judd already has the corner on the cheap Julia knock-off market. And the film is so breathtakingly unpleasant that it begins a time or two to touch on the satirical.
The ironically named Slim (Jennifer Lopez) is a waitress, her stupidity and her ugliness mentioned at least a half-dozen times in the first hour in a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to humanize the increasingly inhuman J-Lo. Her best friend and co-waitress Ginny (a typecast Juliette Lewis) is also confirmed by dialogue to be stupid (though her unattractiveness is never mentioned), and she has a moment after Slim gets abused by her husband Mitch (Bill Campbell) in which she wisely informs that all men are minefields--it's only a matter of time before they go off. Instantly, we get a grip on the kind of audience Enough is after--it's tailored for people who mix metaphors and women who have been abused or know someone who has been abused, a base composed of poorly-educated victims of the worst of mankind that will accept the overriding lunacy (and the myriad lunacies) of the picture.
To Slim's credit, she doesn't take Ginny's fatalism to heart, scooping up her sickeningly mawkish little girl (the also-ironically named) Grace (Tessa Allen) and traveling across the country asking ineffectual men to help her (not-bad men=neutered men) while dodging the evil men (men=bad). Knowing what this will lead to eventually, all we can do is mumble helplessly as a lawyer says, "There's nothing the system can do to help you, he's going to kill you" (uh huh) and a cop says, "When a stranger takes a kid it's kidnapping, when a mom takes a kid, it's parenting." Judging by the applause in the screening I attended, some folks slurp up this ignorance with the same insatiability they once sucked down Double Jeopardy's premise: if a man you're convicted of killing turns out to be alive, you can murder him again with impunity. The tagline for that little bit of Ashley Judd bullstuff ("Murder Isn't Always a Crime") could apply to Enough as well--to which I respond: if it is murder, it is in fact always a crime, even if you're a woman. Suggesting otherwise is feckless and moronic.
Magnifying Slim's crime (she gets tired of running, so she hires a Billy Blanks-archetype to Rocky-whip her into killing shape), at the moment of reckoning she breaks into her husband's house (Slim-less, the house is now also free of floral prints and orchids), plants evidence, sabotages the phone system (land and cell), and lies in wait so that she might off Mitch. Even at the moment of truth, Enough betrays itself to be dishonest and gutless: Having spent most of its third act with Slim's transformation from milquetoast to avenging angel, when she has the bad guy down she calls her best friend and whines about lacking the killer instinct. Of course--and if you think I'm on the verge of giving something away, by all means stop reading--the bad guy gets up and does something mean, forcing our heroine to take him down. Slim's act of premeditated murder, you see, is now sold as an act of self-defense, and no matter how you twist it, it's perverse and bunk.
Putting aside the horrific morality of Enough, the film is badly put-together (plot holes rule the day) and flat nonsense. Slim doesn't want to go to a battered woman's shelter because she doesn't want to "taint" her daughter--the suggestion being that going to such a place is more unnatural than engaging in high-speed car chases, assuming false identities, and separating from the father for an extended period of unexplained time. Another suggestion, more troubling, is that battered women and their children (other than Slim, of course) are "taint" by the fact of them. How nice. After her daughter is "tainted" by the fact of her father's badness (men=bad), Slim spends no time comforting her child nor educating the tot on the badness of all men not also neutered (a line earlier in the film talks of the double-edged desirability of "testosterone-packed" boys--the corollary: boys not endowed with testosterone-makers are not desirable, but safe)--rather, the welfare of the child becomes the most egregious of the many dropped sub-plots. Grace is sent away for the violence; how much more interesting a film Enough would have been had she bore witness to her mom's brand of feminist empowerment?
What happens to the sensitive new age boyfriend (Dan Futterman)? The trio of killers hired by Mitch? The biological father (Fred Ward), who, after giving his ungrateful, stupid, and unattractive daughter thousands upon thousands of dollars, is thanked with: "One day, I'll require that you acknowledge me as your child." (Sorry? I thought the help he gave your ill-considered vendetta did just that.) What happens to Ginny, denied a proper exit line; what happens to the police investigating Mitch's murder who don't, I guess, notice that the victim's phone line has been cut; and what happens to the daughter when mommy tells her that daddy splashed through the coffee table and now sleeps with the fishes?
Enough makes it clear that the film is a J-Lo vehicle through and through, incapable and unwilling to be anything but a cynical play for the lowest common denominator gussied-up with high production values, femi-folk anthems, and base gender generalizations that, were they reversed, would be rightfully derided as misogynistic and abhorrent. Where the tagline for Double Jeopardy applies to this bit of base-instinct inanity, Enough's ad copy does a pretty good job, too: "Everyone Has A Limit," it reads--and sure enough, the appropriately titled Enough is mine. Originally published: May 24, 2002.
by Bill Chambers So, yeah, Enough's trash, but how's the DVD? In a word: nice! A 2.35:1, 16x9-enhanced transfer shares space on a dual-layer platter with a presentation cropped to 1.33:1; as the above comparison shows, although the widescreen image reveals about forty-percent more visual information on the sides, cinematographer Rogier Stoffers was clearly TV-conscious in his framing. Brilliant saturation, exquisite shadow detail, and an absence of artifacting impressed me, all, as did the punchy, if nondescript, 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, which uses the surround and LFE channels mostly to beef up the shock chords. Enough's theatrical trailer (5.1; anamorphic), filmographies for Lopez, Apted, Campbell, Lewis, Noah Wyle, and screenwriter Nicholas Kazan, and the video for "Alive," a track Lopez performed on Enough's soundtrack, round out the DVD. Originally published: October 12, 2002.