3 July 2023

You Hurt My Feelings is a smart, funny look at navigating relationship disappointment

| Marcus Kelson
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Beth, a frustrated novelist. Photo: Supplied.

I’ve mentioned this before (or at least thought it out loud in the kitchen to my dog): it’s hard to make a comedy with romance and drama and not call it a dramedy.

That isn’t a real word and anyone who uses it will spend the afterlife in damnation.

You Hurt My Feelings arrives with some star-studded heft. The two central characters (although there are five) are Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld, Veep etc) and Don (Tobias Menzies, Outlander, The Crown) as a married couple.

She had a successful memoir published some years before and teaches at a university but is struggling to write her first novel. Don, it becomes quite obvious early on, is a hopeless psychiatrist who continues to suggest all his patients’ issues stem from a problem with either their father or mother or both.

Beth has a sister, Sarah (Michaela Watkins, a successful interior decorator who doesn’t seem to understand the weird choices of some of her clients) married to a struggling actor Mark (Arian Moayed), who once appeared in a film with a pumpkin, but the pumpkin was the lead.

Early on, these four dance around each other comically, including Beth and Sarah’s mother, Georgia (Jeannie Berlin), who is constantly toying with them and their affections.

It’s light, fun, and incredibly affable until Beth and Sarah stumble upon their husbands in a clothes store buying socks, and Don admits to Mark that he doesn’t like Beth’s manuscript.

This is where the film really starts coming to life.

It’s not a spoiler to say what happens next is an exploration of being honest in a relationship, how you can be supportive without actually liking what you’re supporting and how to rebuild trust after what appears to be a betrayal.

Mark and Beth’s son, Eliot (Owen Teague), has a few truth bombs of his own around how he thought his parents were pushing him as a child when they thought they were only being supportive.

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You Hurt My Feelings is a film of many subtle changes and hues that happen when one person’s gesture of help, discovered years later, turns out to be one of resentment and disappointment. But don’t get me wrong here: this film is delivered with an enormous heart and a great sense of humour.

Both Menzies and Louis-Dreyfus anchor it superbly as people who think or want to think they are perfect but are all too human and fallible.

They’re the couple that eat each other’s food and probably finish each other’s sentences, but they are also gleefully oblivious to this until Eliot says they always were more interested in each other than him as their son.

Of course, they have no idea and vehemently deny this but isn’t this the crux of so many relationships? We want the best for our children and push them into sports or piano or violin and think they love it. But would they just prefer to spend more time getting to get to know their parents?

You Hurt My Feelings has a very light touch and was written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, who has a long history in television and film, including Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, Six Feet Under and more.

Those three shows on their own were all very well written and could dance between being mercilessly dark and uproariously funny. This movie also has that, while also possessing the distinct afterglow of the late, great Nora Ephron. Three and a half stars out of five.

You Hurt My Feelings is showing at major cinema chains.

Marcus Kelson is a Canberra writer and critic.

Original Article published by Marcus Kelson on Riotact.

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