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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Review
Enough (2002)
2 Stars

Directed by Michael Apted
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Tessa Allen, Juliette Lewis, Dan Futterman, Noah Wyle, Fred Ward, Chris Maher, Ruben Madera, Russell Milton
2002 – 115 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for violence and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, May 12, 2002.

"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.

©2002 by Dustin Putman

Dustin Putman