Writer / director Nicole Holofcener‘s “You Hurt My Feelings” is a witty, perceptive, and sophisticated film all about those little white lies we tell the ones we love, and what happens when the actual truth is revealed. With her signature crackerjack writing and the help of a talented cast, Holofcener’s film is a very relatable adult comedy-drama that achieves its full potential.
Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a novelist living in New York with her therapist husband, Don (Tobias Menzies). Both are struggling in their careers, but they truly love and support each other. In the process of writing a follow-up to her memoir, Beth shares draft after draft with her agreeable husband, who showers her work with praise. But when she overhears Don sharing his real opinion about the book (he doesn’t like it or much of her previous work, either) with her brother-in-law Mark (Arian Moayed), Beth is crushed. Beginning to wonder if her whole relationship has also been one big lie, Beth turns to her sister Sarah (Michaela Watkins) for support in dealing with the betrayal she’s feeling.
The story is something to which all creative types can relate, as our work truly is an extension of ourselves. Holofcener captures the feeling of professional and personal devastation with astute humor and a knowing honesty. It’s painful when those you love the most don’t love your work, and the clever, observational script is one of the best at expressing that feeling. Holofcener’s story also touches on the insecurities of all her characters, who live in their own self-absorbed bubble. What works so well is that these aren’t unlikable people at all, they just acknowledge their privilege and their desire to be wanted and respected.
It’s great to see such a strong role for a female actor over 50, and Louis-Dreyfus is wonderfully cast. She gives an equally terrific turn as Beth, and Watkins is the perfect sidekick. There’s also a very funny cameo by Amber Tamblyn and David Cross as Don’s highly unsatisfied clients who give him a hard time, and it’s a running gag that had me in stitches.
“You Hurt My Feelings” is easy to love even if you aren’t a fan of Holofcener’s previous work. She’s always been great at creating real, authentic characters, and her story about how minor untruths are sometimes necessary to keep a relationship humming is a real charmer.
By: Louisa Moore