You Hurt My Feelings is a clever and poignant film about our continual need to confront our fears and insecurities. It is about the power of words and the wounds that come from those we care about most betraying us. It demonstrates the heart and humor that occurs during moments of discomfort and conflict.
There is a specific type of pain one endures when they are not being seen or heard by the people they care about most. In Nicole Holofcener’s latest film You Hurt My Feelings explores the communication snafus and the examination of our own confidence as we get older. Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a writer and educator who is working on her second novel. Her first novel was a massive success, and as she attempts to recapture that magic from her first book, she has insecurities leading up to the publication of her second book. Meanwhile, her husband Don (Tobias Menzies) is a therapist who sees couples and individuals at crossroads in their lives. As he navigates and attempts to empower his clients – some are more invested than others – he begins to struggle with his perception of himself. Their harmonious, albeit a bit co-dependent, relationship is tested after Beth overhears Don speaking freely and harshly about Beth’s work. This betrayal then sets the couple into a period of dissension and scrutiny as they begin to evaluate their relationship.
Holofcener has always had a clear vision when it comes to people. As a filmmaker and writer, she is interested at the crossroads people face both individually and simultaneously in their relationships. She looks further into these life confluences of people at various stages in their lives. In Your Hurt My Feelings, both Beth and Don are individuals who are professionals in longstanding careers. They have experienced successes as well as a level of comfortability within their jobs. However, their comfortability is also joined with stagnation in their work. Holofcener expertly crafts a story not just about these people facing internal doubts, but then layers this with this act of betrayal Beth endures. Holofcener connects these threads with ease as the personal examinations of Beth and Don as individuals informs this hurtful revelation causing conflict for their pair. It is all presented very seamlessly, yet as the story unfolds, you cannot help by be impressed at how cleverly these elements come together.
Holofcener does have help with incredible performances from Louis-Dreyfus and Menzies. Menzies embodies the role of a therapist so well in this film. Often, mental health professionals in film are these prophetic beings, but Menzies understands that being a therapist is a job. There is training involved but the person sitting opposite their client is just that: a person. Menzies demystifies what being a therapist can be, and goes further to show that struggle of not using their education and profession to inform their behavior in their personal relationships.
Louis-Dreyfus has previously worked with Holofcener in the 2013 film, Enough Said. Coming into this project, you can feel the comfortability this creative pair has; Louis-Dreyfus is doing some of her best work. She is witty and smart while being extremely vulnerable and ruminative. Louis-Dreyfus crafts the sense that Beth is someone who strives to be a support for others. And while she can be emotionally honest, there is a level of consideration of how her words will impact people. Whether it is with her students or her husband or her aging mother. She is not necessarily restrained but she is certainly considerate in her communication. Watching Louis-Dreyfus slowly unfold the layers of Beth’s emotions and perspective is truly a sight to behold and one of her top performances – in a career of stellar work. One would be remiss to not mention Michaela Watkins who plays Beth’s sister, Sarah. What she brings to the film seems so effortless. The rapport between Watkins and Louis-Dreyfus is instantaneous and the relationship they portray on screen feels extremely lived in.
You Hurt My Feelings is a clever and poignant film about our continual need to confront our fears and insecurities. It is about the power of words and the wounds that come from those we care about most betraying us. It demonstrates the heart and humor that occurs during moments of discomfort and conflict. The film is graced with phenomenal performances with Louis-Dreyfus giving a career best. After a decade since her last film as writer/director, Holofcener returns with one of the best films of 2023. You Hurt My Feelings is sharp, sophisticated, and above all else, human.
Should be Considered: Best Original Screenplay (Nicole Holofcener), Best Actress (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
Release Date: May 26, 2023
Where to Watch: In Theaters
Lives on the East Coast aka Where Writers Live in the Woods
Favorite Director: Lynn Shelton
Favorite Moment in Pop Culture History: On The Hills, someone tried explaining what the Large Hadron Collider does to Audrina Patridge and her response was, “This is crazy how all this is happening while Lauren is gone.”
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