You Hurt My Feelings

You Hurt My Feelings

2023, R, 93 min. Directed by Nicole Holofcener. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, Owen Teague, Amber Tamblyn, David Cross, Jeannie Berlin.

REVIEWED By Alejandra Martinez, Fri., May 26, 2023

The stakes of most people’s everyday lives and relationships are often relatively low. However, something as seemingly banal as the discovery of a white lie or an insecurity about our passions can become an insurmountable obstacle in our relationships and threaten to tear everything apart. Writer/director Nicole Holofcener understands the importance of these delicate interpersonal struggles and examines their aftermath in her latest movie, You Hurt My Feelings. The result is a deeply felt, deeply funny examination of the razor-thin lines we all walk between honesty, love, and cruelty within our relationships.

Beth (Louis-Dreyfus) and Don (Menzies) have a loving, carefree relationship. Both of them take pride in their work: Beth is an accomplished writer and professor, and Don is a successful therapist. Beth is in the initial stages of shopping her latest book around to agents. Despite her insecurities about whether or not it will live up to her last, Don is supportive and sweet, reassuring her she has something special on her hands. He’s telling the truth, it seems, until one day when Beth and her sister, Sarah (Watkins), overhear Don telling his friend Mark (Moayed) his honest thoughts: He’s not a fan of Beth’s latest work. From here on out, Beth and Don will have to get real about their insecurities, navigate what honesty means for their relationship, and help their adult son, Eliot (Teague), through his own heartache.

You Hurt My Feelings shines because it has the courage to let its characters be whole people, and the writing and performances carry this nuance through. Even at their lowest points, it’s clear that Beth and Don love each other deeply. Plus, Louis-Dreyfus puts in a reliably hilarious and great performance, bringing both vulnerability and a slight narcissism to Beth. Similarly, Menzies as Don is painfully oblivious, but also terrified of the passing of time and how it might be throwing him off his game as a husband and a therapist. Watkins and Moayed are doing excellent work here, too, as Beth's sister and brother-in-law, serving as nice foils to the leads and keeping the humor rolling.

Performances aside, the film also probes interesting ideas about our passions and creating things: Do we have to be good at doing what we love, or is it enough to just do it? From Beth’s writing to Don’s work as a therapist, it’s unclear whether they’re actually “good” at their jobs, but does it even matter if they’re doing what they can? Of course, the main questions remain the thorniest: Where’s the line between honesty and cruelty, and how do we navigate it in a relationship? The movie explores these themes but trusts us enough to let us come to our own conclusions.

Overall, You Hurt My Feelings is a sweet, warm, and funny rumination on the delicate nature of our interpersonal relationships. It’s also full of great performances and asks questions other films couldn’t broach without getting too self-important. Philosophical ruminations should always go down with a spoonful of sugar, or at least a chuckle or two. Thankfully, You Hurt My Feelings understands this and delivers.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Nicole Holofcener Films
Enough Said
James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus co-star in this delicate, uncommon picture of middle-aged new love.

Kimberley Jones, Sept. 27, 2013

Please Give
The pleasure of Nicole Holofcener's film – which stars Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, and Amanda Peet – lies in the honesty of its conversations rather than its plot.

Marjorie Baumgarten, June 11, 2010

More by Alejandra Martinez
I Saw the TV Glow
Probes the mystery behind an Are You Afraid of the Dark?-like children’s show

May 10, 2024

Immaculate
Sydney Sweeney excels in just-OK nun horror

March 22, 2024

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

You Hurt My Feelings, Nicole Holofcener, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, Owen Teague, Amber Tamblyn, David Cross, Jeannie Berlin

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle