In You Hurt My Feelings, Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) seems to have the perfect marriage to Don (Tobias Menzies) and perfect relationship with her son Elliot (Owen Teague). However, she also struggles from a lack of self-confidence. So, when her new book is finally finished, she goes to Don for honest feedback and support. However, after she discovers that his glowing reviews weren’t entirely accurate, cracks begin to appear in their marriage. Whereas he was trying to spare her feelings, she feels as though trust has been broken, leading to the couple asking themselves some much larger questions about their relationship.
Directed by Nicole Holofcener, You Hurt My Feelings is a comedy that leans more into its dramatic impulses than goes for big laughs. Anchored by wonderful performances by Louis-Dreyfus and Menzies, Feelings is meant to be a film that shines a spotlight on marriage at its most real. Rather than go for broad, comedic strokes (for the most part), Feelings instead finds its humour in the quieter moments of our lives. Debates over poorly chosen gifts or whether or not it’s appropriate to buy pot from your own son feel awkwardly true.
We laugh, not because the moments are outlandish, but rather because they feel genuine.
Louis-Dreyfus has an incredible ability to make her performances feel authentic and that works exceedingly well here. Her banter with Menzies is believable and feels at ease. Her dialogue with their son seems to stem from genuine concern. For a film that remains rooted in the real world, it is essential that the cast feel present and Louis-Dreyfus does so in every scene.
However, Feelings bears its soul in its title. By highlighting the small moments in our lives, Holofcener allows explores the small moments that define and shape our relationships. While the best of relationships are rooted in honesty, what happens when that trust is broken? One need not commit some form of illicit affair in order for trust to be broken. Instead, it can be fractured by the everyday lies that we tell one another. These untruths that we tell can be to protect ourselves or other people but, even the simplest of white lies that may seem harmless can leave scars. How do we know we can trust someone when they are unwilling to tell us the truth? However, at the same time, do we ever really want to know what that truth may be?
In its best moments, Feelings sits in these small disputes and tries to navigate what it really means to support our loved ones. Parents who want to encourage their kids could potentially set them up for failure in the future. At the same time, husbands and wives tell one another what they think they want to hear instead of being truthful. But do these things truly help or are they eating away at the fabric of truth embedded within our relationships? These questions lie at the very core of Feelings and the Holofcener’s script feels natural and honest in its ability to process these moments.
It’s for these reasons that You Hurt My Feelings works so well. Tightly written and executed, Holofcener’s script feels like we’re watching our friends work through the complexities of life. While the issues may seem ‘small’, we understand that they’re rooted in much larger questions that we all must answer on a daily basis.
You Hurt My Feelings is available in theatres on Friday, May 26th, 2023.