Famed filmmaker Nicole Holofcener has executed another messy (in the best way) and brilliant character-driven comedy with You Hurt My Feelings, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies (now in theatres).
What is 'You Hurt My Feelings' about?
You Hurt My Feelings tackles one core question: What happens if the person you love doesn't love your work?
Beth (Louis-Dreyfus) is a writer who achieved some success publishing her memoir. Now, while also teaching, she has been working on a new novel.
Beth is married to Don (Menzies) and they share a son, Eliot (Owen Teague). The couple is seemingly incredibly close and in sync, sharing food and being quite affectionate with each other.
But Don is a shrink who's having a bit of a mid-life crisis. He's mixing up his patients and has recently becomes fixated on his "aging" face. Real-life couple Amber Tamblyn and David Cross, who play Don's bickering patients, eventually even request that Don gives them their money back.
Things change one day when Beth and her sister Sarah (Michaela Watkins) "sneak up" on Don and Sarah's husband Mark (Succession's Arian Moayed) at a store while they're looking for socks. Sarah and Beth overhear that Don doesn't actually like Beth's new book at all, after he had been telling her the book is great.
That opens up Pandora's box, exposing the white lies we tell our loved ones to, as Don puts it, encourage them. From saying we love their work, to lying about loving an anniversary gift.
Beth is absolutely shaken by this revelation, questioning whether she can trust her husband at all after this discovery of deceit.
Is 'You Hurt My Feelings' worth watching?
When it comes to romantic comedies, we think no one crafts them better than writer-director Holofcener, who also worked with Louis-Dreyfus on her previous film Enough Said, which also starred the late James Gandolfini.
From Holofcener's mind, You Hurt My Feelings is able to give us a heartfelt comedy that manages to swerve away from being corny or sappy in its delivery, with the relationship between Beth and Don just feeling believable.
With a cast filled with comedy geniuses, it's not surprising that you'll be laughing the whole way through the film.
Even though Holofcener handles Beth's bruised ego and self-esteem and vulnerability with honesty, the film doesn't shy away from an opportunity for a funny, witty and sarcastic moment.
A real highlight throughout the whole film is that all these actors have an attractive and endearing rapport with each other on screen.
Louis-Dreyfus and Michaela Watkins are just the perfect match as sisters, with great banter that gets effortlessly lobbed back-and-forth between the characters. Jeannie Berlin coming in to play their mother just amplifies this dazzling dynamic. We could just watch them talk for hours.
Of course, this story only works if we believe in the relationship that Don and Beth have and that's very easy to do with Louis-Dreyfus and Menzies, with an endearing awkwardness between these two characters.
There's something universally understandable about spiralling and making something relatively small into a larger issue. Sometimes we just can't handle honesty.