Written and Directed by Nicole Holofcener | 93 min | ▲▲▲▲△ | In Cinemas
Someone in a movie once said it’s hard to get through the day without a juicy rationalization. The same can be said for a white lie. Where would we be if we had to be 100% honest with the people around us all the time?
That habit — or maybe it’s a whole culture — of lying, especially to those we love, is the rich, dense core of this otherwise featherlight comedy. That ideal balance between relatable fact of life and totally flaky? This film nails it.
Holofcener — known lately for her screenwriting on The Last Duel and Can You Ever Forgive Me? — reunites here with her Enough Said star Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s Beth, a successful writer of novels and a memoir living in New York with her therapist husband, Don (Tobias Menzies, a bit stiff but actually perfect for what this role requires).
They seem very happy, to the point where their almost-adult son, Eliot (Owen Teague), is half-grossed-out, half-alienated by their affection for each other. Don has never been less than supportive of Beth and her work.
Then, one day, Beth and her sister, Sarah (the excellent Michaela Watkins), come upon Don and Sarah’s actor husband, Mark (Arian Moayed), at a store, and hear Don admit that he think’s Beth’s new book is terrible. Beth’s confidence is shattered, as is her trust in her her husband.
The script, which is dynamite, isn’t satisfied with just one example of kindness masquerading as deceit. In Beth’s life with her husband, as a writing teacher, and in her relationship with her sister and her mother, the picture gets a lot of laughs mining exchanges where we bite our tongue to not upset the people around us.
We also get time at Don’s work and his relationship with his patients — Zach Cherry and The Good Fight‘s Sarah Steele are standouts. Amber Tamblyn and David Cross — a couple in real life — spend their time on the therapy couch bitching at each other, eventually turning that anger toward Don in a way I won’t spoil, but it’s hilarious. This film is happy to take a vicious swipe at the entitlement of rich white people.
What’s maybe best about You Hurt My Feelings, aside from its perfectly pitched title and that deceptively simple premise, is that it knows its scenario is incredibly bougie. If you have room in your life to have a crisis over whether your partner loves or hates your book, you should count yourself lucky — and You Hurt My Feelings knows it.