REVIEW – “You Hurt My Feelings”

“You Hurt My Feelings” is written and directed by Nicole Holofcener and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, and Jeannie Berlin. It tells the story of Beth, a novelist whose longstanding marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband, Don, giving his honest reaction to her latest book. Nicole Holofcener is one of the more exciting new voices in independent cinema. Having penned both “Can You Ever Forgive Me” and “The Last Duel”, she’s proving to be one of the best in the screenwriting game. Holofcener teams with A24 for her latest effort, a tried and true romantic comedy. “You Hurt My Feelings” features some very charming performances and some thoughtful writing, but is often too awkwardly constructed and executed to really get invested in.

Nicole Holofcener is clearly a very talented writer and the dialogue really is her strong suit here. She paints very clear and interesting dynamics between the characters and is able to explore some genuinely compelling themes and ideas but unfortunately, the execution of the film is not as sharp. Holofcener seems a bit sheepish here, delivering something far more familiar and cliche than expected. This is a classic New York romantic comedy and while that’s not inherently a bad thing, she doesn’t seem to add her own unique spin on it. The staging of scenes is often clunky and forced. The central scene in the film where Dreyfus overhears Menzies bad-mouthing her novel is so awkwardly presented that it almost felt like they were short on time when filming. It feels incredibly artificial and staged. I’m not sure if this was an editing issue but for such an important scene to really fall flat puts a bad taste in your mouth for the rest of the film. This is not the only sequence to be presented this way, as several follow. In particular, a scene near the end in a weed store felt completely out of place. While there is certainly a lot to enjoy in the film, the presentation is so all over the place it is hard to really get on the wavelength this film is on. It’s such a rollercoaster of quality because at times the film is really fun and entertaining. It’s just a shame that fun is sandwiched in between some really poorly executed sequences. It often feels just a bit too cute, and while I’m not against a film being sincere, that cuteness coupled with poor editing and staging is kind of a nightmare scenario.

The cast all do a great job, often elevating the material far beyond what is on the page. These actors are able to spin the dialogue into gold. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies both do a great job leading and Arian Moayed was also a great addition. David Cross also pops in briefly and was a delight on screen. Owen Teague plays Dreyfus and Menzies son and does a fine job despite how odd his character is. He is a promising young actor and has turned in great performances in the past and here is no exception. His character is written so strangely – the more you think about the psychology of that character things get a bit weird. Teague is able to ground the character and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

In short, “You Hurt My Feelings” is a surprisingly erratic film. Fluctuating between a sincere romantic comedy and a stilted and awkward melodrama, it fails to stick the landing. 2/5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s