Not much happens in You Hurt My Feelings, director Nicole Holofcener’s most recent feature (The Last Duel, Can You Ever Forgive Me?). It is this lively representation of a banal conflict, of a situation without much interest, which is its strength. There are no twists and turns, nothing to chew on for those who love films that rivet them to their armchair and yet the story of Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Don (Tobias Menzies) charms us. . The dialogues are realistic and often amusing. Everyday scenes become captivating in the eyes of the director.
The main reason for this interest is the ease that one has, as a spectator, to understand the quarrel on which the plot is based. Ego, trust, betrayal… all these themes intersect in this moment when Beth hears Don admit to someone close to him that he didn’t like his wife’s new book. We can’t help but imagine what our own reaction would be. Beth’s is intense, but we sympathize with her. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ acting conveys these strong emotions that her character feels.
Tobias Menzies (The Crown, Outlander) is fantastic as Don, a man who does not make waves, who questions his abilities as a psychologist and feels caught up in the passing of time. Surrounding the codependent couple are her son Elliott (Owen Teague), Beth’s endearing sister Sarah (Michaela Watkins), the latter’s husband, failed actor Mark (Arian Moayed). This ecosystem, a normal family with normal problems, complements Beth and Don’s dynamic well.
Premiering at Sundance at the end of winter, You Hurt My Feelings is an introspective film, which manages to make people laugh, generate compassion and reflect on our own egos and relationships. It takes talent to turn the mundane into something entertaining. Nicole Holofcener does this nicely.