The main character of this movie expends enormous effort seeking affirmation that the words she spends her days trying to get down on paper matter. The movie’s writer-director, one of the most idiosyncratic and indispensable voices currently working in film comedy, needn’t worry about a thing.
Comedy is supposed to show us our foibles and flaws and in the process help us see ourselves a little better and not take ourselves so seriously. Her movies do exactly that. Holofcener takes all of live's little defeats and makes charming, redemptive, funny movies about them. They're all excellent, and this might be the best one of all.
One of the things that makes You Hurt My Feelings so enjoyable is that it's simply a film about adults having adult conversations. They drift around New York, or hang out in apartments and bars, and just ... talk. That might sound boring, but the snappy script and hilarious performances keep everything buoyant.
“You Hurt My Feelings” is an inspired title. It effectively summarizes all the action that takes place in the course of this film, while simultaneously capturing what’s at stake here.
Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep,” “Seinfeld”) has been laboring to write a novel, a follow-up to her modestly well-received memoir. Her husband Don (Tobias Menzies – Prince Philip in “The Crown”) has read twenty drafts of the novel, offering vague encouragement following each reading. Beth overhears Don telling a friend that he really didn’t like his wife’s novel. Beth is distraught.
What follows is a meditation on “little white lies.” Is superficial lying a necessary lubricant for human relationships, as some have proposed? Alternatively, are truly solid relationships built on an unfaltering honesty in which any form of untruth has no place? It’s an interesting question. Regrettably, even through the final scene of this film, Writer/Director Nicole Holofcener steadfastly refuses to take a position.
“You Hurt My Feelings” includes several positive elements that make the film worth seeing. Holofcener’s script includes keenly-observed, rich female characters. (The males here are not so fortunate.) At times, the dialogue crackles with cleverness. And the cast is first-rate. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is multi-dimensional, compelling and appealing as a character who doesn’t rely on the self-absorbed snark she deployed constantly in “Veep.” Michaela Watkins, an alumna along with Louis-Dreyfus of Holofcener’s previous film “Enough Said,” is excellent as Sarah, Beth’s sister. Arian Moayed (“Succession,” “Inventing Anna”) is outstanding as Sarah’s husband, a tortured actor who is mesmerized by socks.
Professional critics have adored this film, bestowing upon it the ultimate accolade of “grown-up movie,” presumably since “adult film” was already taken. This seems a fair assessment, since young adults will have little or no tolerance for its nothing-at-stake “action” and children will sleep through the proceedings.
Overall, “You Hurt My Feelings” is a story about people who have the luxury to fixate on incidents, not real crises. They are New Yorkers who vacillate between oblivious self-absorption and an awareness of others that inevitably generates neurotic anxiety. In other words, for better or worse, you’re likely to feel as if you’ve been suddenly thrown into an old Woody Allen movie. If you want to see all of this done better, re-watch “Annie Hall.”
American indie film hits 60, and hasn't improved with age. The mystery is why the writer/director regards characters with the minds and vocabularies of sitcom personnel (It's going to be amazing! Oh, wow!) as worth the satire, or if she actually think they're interesting. Send the lot of them to Amazon warehouse jobs for a month or two. The writer/director might also want to try it.
Found the movie a little unsatisfying, themes are all very predictable, wealthy family under the microscope and their relationships not really credible, humour is largely scarce, all that apologising and positive reinforcement going on eventually could leave you reaching for the sick bag.