This smart and sincere dramedy from A24 makes a case for the best film of the year (so far).
Relationship dramadies can be tricky, as everything from the cast, script, and message need to click in order for the film to be more than just an afterthought once the credits roll. No relationship dramedy in recent memory has fired on all cylinders at an exceptional level like You Hurt My Feelings does. From director Nicole Holofcenter, one minute this dramedy can be deep regarding what we do for our loved ones, while the next minute it can gut-busting hilarious. Thanks to the movie’s clear direction, excellent script, and cast of characters, You Hurt My Feelings is an insightful film about white lies and the impact they can have on our lives.
You Hurt My Feelings takes us to New York City where we find Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a novelist and writing teacher, in the process of finalizing her first nonfiction book that she’s struggling to get published. On the other side of the marriage is her husband Don (Tobias Menzies), who is showing signs of losing his touch as a therapist. Even though Don has been supportive of Beth and her latest novel, Beth catches Don telling one of his friends how much he dislikes her wife’s new book. This white lie sets into motion a chain of events that include coping, searching for answers, and reflecting on moments in years past that may or may not be similar to what Beth is going through.
As most know, adulting can be difficult and especially for families that handle a variety of things on a day-to-day basis. And whenever white lies are exposed, it can be seen as a sign of betrayal. Thankfully, in Holofcenter’s best film to date, You Hurt My Feelings is smart in its approach to the situation and how it affects everyone closely connected to Beth and Don. Those connections, for the most part, expose the cracks and resealing of relationships that keep us together with the ones that matter the most. It also makes for some laugh-out-loud moments that will keep you grinning long after they occur.
Helping heighten this film beyond its direction and script are its cast of characters and the chemistry they display. At the front and center of the film, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies each give career-best performances on the big screen as the married couple Beth and Don. Whether it’s Louis-Dreyfus spotlighting her character’s struggles with self-confidence or Menzies trying to balance his life as a husband and therapist, both talented actors are superb here. The supporting cast surrounding these two are superb as well. Veteran actors Michaela Watkins and Arian Moayed as Beth’s sister and brother-in-law are often funny as we watch and closely examine their work lives. And Owen Teague is adept as the Beth and Don’s young adult son as he struggles with his current relationship while also managing a hemp store. Oh, and we also can’t forget comedian David Cross and actress Amber Tamblyn, who are terrific (and humorous) in their small roles as a couple constantly butting heads during their therapy sessions with Don.
White lies will always be a fabric in everyone’s daily lives and no other film in quite some time has done a better job at exploring them than You Hurt My Feelings. While we strive to always seek the honest feedback we want, the film’s near-flawless balancing act of handling relationships as best as one can creates a wholesome viewing experience. And it helps that, in addition to being so insightful, it’s also pretty damn funny.