You Hurt My Feelings
It’s natural to want to support those you love, even if that means bending the truth to protect their feelings. In Nicole Holofcener’s aptly titled You Hurt My Feelings, the writer-director asks whether it’s better to simply be honest to the people we care about, ultimately questioning if lying does more harm than good. These questions are raised when Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) discovers that her therapist husband, Don (Tobias Menzies), has secretly hated the book she’s been working on for the past two years despite having sung its praises to her to stay encouraging.
Holofcener explores this premise with a tender sense of humanity and sincerity, as each of the characters come to recognise that they may not be as successful in their endeavours as they’ve been led to believe by those around them. However, before the film can get to the meat of its subject matter, viewers are forced to endure a sluggish and generally unamusing opening act that takes too long to set events in motion.
The first half hour of the film is dedicated to introducing audiences to the small collection of characters and their situations. It gives a snapshot of Beth and Don’s endearing marriage alongside their relationship with their 20-something son (Owen Teague). There’s also Beth’s designer sister (Michaela Watkins) and her actor husband (Arian Moayed), as well as Beth’s relationship with her snooty mother (Jeanie Berlin), and the handful of Don’s patients. These opening scenes play out more as a series of disjointed vignettes of awkward comedy sketches than a coherent first act.
It’s only when the penny drops for Beth that this film comes into its own – and it’s worth the wait. The filmmaker navigates each of the characters’ dilemmas with a charming mixture of humour and thought as she gradually picks at the script’s central questions. This philosophical journey is made all the better by how confidently understated this flick is in terms of its presentation and central performances. Consequently, the comedy and drama develop naturally, culminating in a conclusion that neatly and satisfyingly ties up everything the first 30 minutes laid out.
Despite beginning on the wrong foot, You Hurt My Feelings nevertheless blossoms into a smart and insightful comedy about telling the truth in relationships.
You Hurt My Feelings is released nationwide on 8th August 2023.
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Watch the trailer for You Hurt My Feelings here: