Moviegoer Jeff put it best for the new comedy “You Hurt My Feelings,” “It has a distinctly Jerry Seinfeld, New York-style type of humor. It’s a slow burn; for me, the humor wasn’t rapid-fire, but if you like that style, I see how it would land well.”
Starring familiar faces Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Seinfeld”), Tobias Menzies (“The Crown”), Michaela Watkins (“Casual”), and Arian Moayed (“Succession”), the film takes viewers on an introspective journey through dry-wit dialogue, relatable characters, and a touch of melancholy. You wonder not so much, “Do I do this?” as, “How often do I do this, too?” And this seems to be what director Nicole Holofcener wants us to feel: as if we’re watching an exposé of our own frail egos and self-aggrandizements.
Audiences who appreciate the understated hilarity of the mundane will enjoy this 90-minute showcase of the little white lies we tell each other to “keep the peace” or feel better about our own flaws. The narrative follows five main characters — Beth, Don, Sarah, Mike, and Eliot — each of whom are grappling with a season of self-discovery. Beth is a successful author seeking validation for her newest work of fiction; Don is a therapist wondering if he’s too out-of-touch with his patients as he ages; Sarah and Don are at a standstill in their careers as an interior designer and actor; Eliot is navigating heartbreak while writing his first play.
While there are moments of light where a sense of feeling connected to each individual’s woes evolves, at times it feels difficult to sympathize with the somewhat-unlikable characters. One can relate, though, to the ways the characters are bruised, unknowingly or deliberately, by brazen dishonesty and withholding of truths. The plot is centered around one main event: after an afternoon of shopping, sisters Beth and Sarah go to surprise their husbands at a sock store (yes, many of the scenes are in drab settings such as this) and overhear a conversation between the two. Don shares that he’s been lying about liking Beth’s new book, and she subsequently unravels: sleeping on the couch, ignoring and confusing Don, until a family dinner where she shares that she overheard Don’s ugly truth. Behavior like this, oft-displayed by the characters, highlights the rabbit hole we can send our loved ones down, making them think one out-of-context comment has been a backdrop to every past or future thought.
The film does masterfully capture the artistic spirit of New York City, which serves as an essential backdrop to the characters’ lives. The church yard where the sisters volunteer, their mother’s apartment and Don’s office, the classic city parks, and even the weed store where Eliot works contribute to the authenticity of the storyline’s ‘average, everyday’ vibe.
Through sly humor (leaf earrings and V-neck cashmere sweaters) and reflection (parallel situations that expose how we all “lie” in our own ways), “You Hurt My Feelings” offers a poignant and endearing commentary on our interconnected relationships. While it may not be the most exciting film, it warrants appreciation for its ability to act as a mirror to our own ethical problems, and deserves a spot on your watchlist.
Movie Times: Click Here
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Actors: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, Owen Teague, Jeannie Berlin
Run Time: 1 hr & 33 min
Rating: R (Language)