How much of a nightmare is life for Slim (Jennifer Lopez), the desperate, saintly, so-abused-she’s-gonna-kick-some-man-ass heroine of Enough? Actually, life starts out the way it should in any grinding contraption of a revenge thriller: as a shiny happy daydream. As the screen fills with gratuitously coy title cards that say things like ”How they met” and ”Hail the conquering hero,” Slim, a waitress at a Los Angeles diner, is saved from the machinations of a sleazy customer by a tall, dark, and sinewy knight named Mitch (Billy Campbell), who turns out to be a wealthy and powerful contractor. Before long, he has married her and bought her a lovely house (he practically forces the middle-aged folks who live there to sell it), and the two have raised an adorable little girl. Slim, it seems, has found the old-fashioned fella of her dreams. There’s just one catch: He’s a little too old-fashioned. As in, he believes it’s his divine right to have an affair. Anytime he wants. And if that manly perk is questioned, he will answer the question with a slap to the face. And a kick in the stomach. Any more questions?
From the get-go, ”Enough” is the kind of bogus pressure cooker that gives its heroine no way out. If she tries to leave, the evil husband will zap her bank account, trace her credit cards, and hunt her down. If she files a complaint with the police, he’ll bail his way out of jail. If she goes underground and moves to San Francisco, he’ll send goons after her and sue her for custody, at which point she’ll look like the irresponsible, dangerous parent. It was a perverse bit of casting to get Billy Campbell, from the sensitive hug-o-sphere of ”Once and Again,” to take on the role of this frightfully self-righteous domestic Antichrist. Campbell, who looks like a more tightly wound Jim Carrey, does as good a job as anyone could have of playing Lopez’s tormenter as a demon-stalker cross between Michael Corleone and every blandly insensitive husband who ever skulked his way through the Lifetime channel.
”Enough” stacks the deck to the point of toppling it over. The scenario it creates of total male terrorism versus total wifely impotence is a roller-coaster projection of the ugly, claustrophobic reality of spousal abuse, yet did the movie have to be ugly and claustrophobic too? It’s really a bogeyman horror film in sociological drag — ”I Know You Married an Abusive Creep Last Summer.”
There’s only one place that a movie like this one can possibly be heading, and that’s to a demagogic blowout of violent, femme-power payback. ”Enough” gets there by way of far too many tedious detours, including Slim’s reunion with her biological father (Fred Ward). But when our heroine, after a few trendy Zen martial-arts lessons, turns the tables on her nemesis, Lopez, who looks bored throughout most of the picture, finally comes alive as an actress. The audience, starved for a payoff, is primed to see the villain get a taste of his own abuse, and a movie that started off as an outcry against sadism ends up glorying in sadism. Maybe it’s a man’s world after all.