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You Hurt My Feelings

Format(s) Available
Opening Date
16 May 2024
NC16 Some Coarse Language and Mature Content
93 mins
English - subtitles to be advised
Nicole Holofcener
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed
From acclaimed filmmaker Nicole Holofcener comes a sharply observed comedy about a novelist whose long standing marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband give his honest reaction to her latest book. A film about trust, lies, and the things we say to the people we love most.
By InCinemas  10 May 2024
A funny, poignant, mature and sometimes gnawingly uncomfortable and relatable analysis on how honesty works within a relationship.
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You Hurt My Feelings, by critically acclaimed writer-director Nicole Holofcener is a smart, witty, well-paced bittersweet comedy about middle-aged people living in New York. It delivers 93 minutes of relatable observations on mid-life crisis, family, marriage, gift-giving, artistic ego, and parenting adult children. The amazing authentic performances from a stellar cast – Julia-Louise-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed and Owen Teague – draw the audience into the story as we can easily identify with the characters.   
The film centers on Beth (Louis-Dreyfuss) and her loving, ever-supportive therapist husband, Don (Menzies). Beth is a writer and also teaches a writing class and volunteers for the church with her sister Sarah (Watkins). She has published a fairly successful personal trauma memoir about her verbally abusive father, although she sometimes wonders if her memoir would be more successful it was physical abuse. Their son, Eliot (Teague) works in a weed store and struggling to write a play. After two years Beth has just finished her book and anxiously awaits feedback from her agent.   
There are well-spaced light-hearted comic moments in the film, like when Beth and Sarah visit their crusty mother Georgia (Jeannie Berlin) whose mental decline only serves to sharpen her typical acid-tongued insight.   And when they spend time to handout second-handclothes at an open-air stall to self-indulge in moral consciences, like “It’s really great to give back” and help the needy. 
Out at a restaurant to celebrate their anniversary, Beth and Don exchange gifts, and when Beth opens hers (a little box with gold earrings in the shape of leaves), her response is priceless. Louis-Dreyfuss masterfully convey the generic enthusiasm of "wife who is seriously underwhelmed but is not going to express her true feelings". This moment seems trivial, but it is a preview to the lurking perplexities which hangs over the film. Do we tell the truth to our partner, and what happens when you’re seriously not sure?
All seems well until one fateful day Beth goes shopping with her sister who is an interior designer servicing the unappeasable rich, and they decide to surprise Don and Mark (Moayed), Sarah’s actor husband at their favourite socks section in the store. She happily creeps up closer only to overhear Don saying that he actually thinks her new novel is terrible. Beth is utterly devasted and Louis-Dreyfuss chooses to play this tricky moment with such impeccable balance of humour, embarrassment and emotional hurt. She conveys and we feel her shocking disbelief followed by immense disappointment and deep hurt that decades of trust in a most loving relationship with Don is completely shattered within seconds.     
Meanwhile, Sarah and Mark experience their fair share of life challenges and issues. Don begins to doubt and worries that he is losing his ability as a therapist. He sits in his therapy sessions with clients in a state of near numbness, offering either uninspiring advice or no advice. One of Don’s clients is a bickering married couple Carolyn and Jonathan (played by real-life couple David Cross and Amber Tamblyn), who endlessly disagree on everything and brutally berate each other. Life changing moment for them is when they ask Don for their money back for years of unfruitful therapy. Hilariously, Carolyn and Jonathan realise that this is their first time and the only decision they made unanimously as a couple!
Eliot experiences heartbreak and came home to seek solace from his parents, but ended complaining of being ignored because his parents love each other too much with little room left for him. He also tells his mother she is guilty of not loving him enough and compensates by being overly supportive of him.  Her unfaltering positivity gave him an inflated false sense of his own talent.   He wishes that she was less supportive when he was a child. This parenting dilemma with Eliot is the pivotal moment for both Beth and Don. It allows them to draw similarities to their ongoing argument about Don not liking her work and the ensuing questions of being honest with loved ones.
It is quite evident at this point that people like Beth, Don, Eliot, Sarah and Mark are not very good at what they do but may not be candid and brave enough to admit it. Whether Beth can disentangle her ego, heal and reconcile with Don, able to assure Eliot on her motherly love, and if there can be a happy ending for everyone seems somehow of lesser importance than Holofcener’s message in You Have Hurt My Feelings.   
We are all guilty of withholding the truth and walk the easier path of avoiding brutal honesty. Our rationale is we do not wish to hurt someone’s feelings or perhaps we find it easier toavoid the awkwardness of confrontation. 
How many times have you told a friend or loved one that you are loving their new outfit or makeup, or the meal they cooked was delicious, or you are happy with the 100th mug or hand cream you received on your birthday It is just easier to lie than to tell the truth. Such gentle deceit seems harmless.
Likewise, are we prepared to react rationally in the face of honest criticism about our talent and actions? Or do we take the high road and write off our loved ones or friends that they do not appreciate our talent and creativity, or they simply do not love us enough?
I highly recommend you drag your bestie or partner or spouse to watch You Have Hurt My Feelings. It is funny, poignant, mature and sometimes a gnawingly uncomfortable and relatable analysis on how honesty works within a marriage or relationship where the complexity of the little things and hurts from those we love and how they affect our self-esteem. It has an enviable cast of great actors and a fantastic script with lots of witty dialogue.
Beware when you ask your loved ones or besties what they think of your singing talent at the next monthly karaoke night out, they may stop being politely encouraging and start getting real with big pinch of naked honesty!
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