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Enough

Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Fred Ward, Dan Futterman, Bill Cobbs, Noah Wyle

(Columbia Pictures; US DVD: 8 Oct 2002)

Remixes

Jennifer Lopez can’t seem to stay out of the news these days, what with her nude birthday pix for Ben, her new jewelry, her reported change of address, or her tendency to show up in tabloid photos. And while Enough, her Ashley-Judd wannabe movie from last summer, may not immediately seem to be at the top of everyone’s shopping list, it’s also likely that, given Lopez’s incredible knack for turning everything she touches to gold, the DVD will do just fine.


Essentially extra-less, the DVD offers Michael Apted’s film and a music video. In the film, J-Lo rocks combat boots. And it is truly a wonderful moment when she laces on a pair of steel-toed kicks in preparation to beat down her abusive husband in Michael Apted’s Enough. Unfortunately, you have to sit through a lot of awkward plotting to get to it.


First, Slim (Lopez) is a waitress with her pal Ginny (Juliette Lewis, who actually looks like she might work in a diner, unlike Lopez), with Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” on the soundtrack. Slim is so great, she calls customers by name and leans down to pick up a child’s toy when it’s fallen on the floor. Within a few minutes, she meets a suspicious character who shows up with a rose for her, one Robbie (Noah Wyle). She’s about to fall for it, when she’s warned away by another guy in the next booth, Mitch (Billy Campbell), who says Robbie’s trying to “get in [her] pants” on a $200 bet. Slim is annoyed enough that her judgment is impaired, and she dates the eminently and immediately creepy Mitch instead. Or maybe her judgment isn’t impaired; maybe she really is as clueless as she seems at this moment.


Cut to series of wedding photos, under a feeble cover of “This Guy’s In Love With You,” and the wedding party. She’s radiant, he’s super-rich, and you find out by way of leaden exposition (courtesy of writer Nicholas Kazan) that her dad abandoned her when she was young and she’s distrustful of men but desperate to be “safe.” Again, this might be a way to explain away her terrible judgment, but if she’s been so picky before Mitch, why fall for his line? Perhaps it’s because he’s a billionaire, apparently through his work as a contractor. He appears at a worksite wearing a hardhat for about 20 seconds, but other than that, the film offers no clue how he’s made his money. He’s rich and he’s bad. What else do you need to know?


Well, for one thing, it might be useful to know what Slim thinks she’s doing. There are plenty of early signs that this guy is not in love with her, but with himself, signs to which she remains willfully ignorant. Just so, Mitch and pregnant wifey are driving along a tree-lined street, when he pulls up to a house that she has apparently admired (you don’t see that part: you only see the creepy part). Mitch knocks on the door and offers a whopping big check to the guy who answers. It’s not for sale, he whimpers. “I’m very determined,” grins/threatens Mitch, with his back to Slim, who smiles obliviously and pats her round tummy. The homeowner, meanwhile, looks alarmed and unsettled, and abruptly agrees to sell (in other words, this total stranger can spot what she cannot). Cut to post-birth scene, where Slim lies sweaty in her hospital bed and Mitch cuddles the infant, wholly ignoring his wife. She frowns, briefly, then settles back to smile and watch him be a good dad.


Her child grows up to be the predictably precocious Gracie (Tessa Allen), and suddenly, Slim gets a clue, noting that Mitch is not paying attention (the man turns down a shower with J-Lo: what is he thinking?). Trying to distract herself, maybe, she cooks a few meals, then one night, in the kitchen, she answers his pager and hears a woman’s voice. Gadzooks! He’s a wily cad! And when Slim confronts him, he cops to all of it, insisting that this is the way it is, because he’s a man and men have different needs than women. Her husband is a psychopath and somehow she’s missed it all these years. Plus, he makes the money around here, so she’ll shut up and take it, because, he says, “it’s my rules.” Cue menacing music.


The other detail in this arrangement according to Mitch is that he gets to beat Slim whenever he wants to. She’s surely not pleased with any of this, but learns quickly that there’s no way out. Just in case you’re not paying attention (and there’s all kinds of reasons that you might not be), the film lays out its narrative points in intertitles between major scenes: “How They Met,” “More Than Enough,” “You Can Run.” But, well, you know what you can’t do.


Still, poor Slim tries. She has another 80 minutes or so to fill until she gets to put on those boots and kick Mitch’s pathetic ass. Ginny and a few friends help her escape one night, but, quelle surprise, he closes down all her credit cards. When she finally settles into a motel room, he calls and is able to quote back to her her last bit of conversation with Gracie. “It’s the information age,” he says, by way of explanation, though it doesn’t rally explain how he has so very much information on her.


At first, she goes to obvious hiding places, like the Seattle home of an ex-boyfriend, Joe (Dan Futterman, too charming to be wasted in this role). After exchanging some pleasantries and getting a shower, their idyll is busted up by a trio of thugs posing as FBI. Slim decides she’s tired of putting everyone she loves in danger and asks the advice of a lawyer (Bill Cobbs), who has a two minute scene during which he informs her that, because she’s never reported the abuse, she’s “screwed,” and Campbell will likely kill her. How helpful.


You can see why she gets a little gonzo in her efforts to rid herself of this scourge. One of her more desperate moves—one that pays off handsomely, for her and you—is to track down her long-absent, much-estranged, super-wealthy, and apparently unloved dad, whose name is, inexplicably and joyously, Jupiter (Fred Ward, who is terrific, as always, juicing up the precious few minutes he’s on screen). He dismisses her at first (“from ‘68 to ‘72, I had like 5 kids…”), then decides to send her wads o’ cash when that same trio of thugs comes a calling after she’s gone. Any girl who’s been able to rile up such assholes is, apparently, a-okay by him.


Jupiter’s cash flow is most excellent. And she spends it wisely, on a new house, some booby traps, Krav Maga martial arts lessons, an extra escape vehicle, and some extremely high tech gadgets she uses to rig a big showdown with Mitch. This elaborate preparation scene recalls Nancy getting ready to face off with Freddy Krueger, except Slim’s devices are far more elaborate and expensive than buckets and axes. He deserves his punishment, no doubt, but it’s a tedious and predictable process. At least she does the boot thing.


She eases up on the hard-bodied affect, however, for the music video that comes as the sole interesting “extra” on Columbia’s DVD version of Enough. Fashioned for a single off her remix album, J to tha L-O:The Remixes, the video is pretty much the perfect fantasy remix, offering all the J-Los you might want to see. It opens on her seated at her piano, in a spacious, white-sofaed living room whose picture window looks out on an immaculate cityscape. She’s scratching words on a pad, composing the song she’s singing, then appears in a recording studio, so pleased with her mostly faceless musicians. Scenes from the film: the happy wedding pix, days at the beach with the child, beatings by bad husband, and of course, J-Lo’s grand, big-booted comeback. The images dissolve into one another, the mood nostalgic, slightly melancholy, even as she apparently struggles—or at least works doggedly—to make her music. The boots are more plausible.

Cynthia Fuchs is director of Film & Media Studies and Associate Professor of English, Film & Video Studies, African and African American Studies, Sport & American Culture, and Women and Gender Studies at George Mason University.


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