This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
"Smart, understated and charming, You Hurt My Feelings takes a realistic look at long-term relationships to create a subtly funny watch"
BY BECCA JOHNSON AUGUST 8, 2023
Directed by Nicole Holofcener and starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Tobias Menzies in the leading roles, You Hurt My Feelings is a dramedy focussing on long-term married couple Beth and Don. When Beth accidentally overhears Don telling someone he didn't enjoy the latest book she wrote, the marriage is suddenly upended. Smart, understated and charming, You Hurt My Feelings takes a realistic look at long-term relationships to create a subtly funny watch that may feel middling to begin with, but all comes together by the end.
If you're fancying something laugh-out-loud hilarious, more of a standard run-of-the-mill comedy, You Hurt My Feelings won't scratch that itch. However, what is does well is give a realistic insight into relationships - not just the romantic kind, but those between us and our parents, kids and friends. The humour is within the relatability of the disputes between the characters. When your partner continues to buy you something you like even though you don't, but you've left it too long to tell them. When your Mum telling you you're great at something you know you're not is actually the opposite of what you want to hear, and you'd rather some honesty. When your partner doesn't like your recent project but has spent hours telling you it's great. They're situations we've all experienced, and the relatability of the subject matter is what makes the movie work. The humour might not be glaring, but once the credits roll, you'll realise you had more fun with it than you thought.
Despite most of our characters being in conflict throughout the run-time, You Hurt My Feelings remains light on the ground and never becomes too over-dramatic. More often than not, they find the humour within their arguments, which stops us as viewers feeling too bogged-down and depressed by it all. It may even make us realise that sometimes, an argument isn't worth it – it isn't quite powerful enough to change how we live our lives, but it may let some stop and think about their own relationships and how they can be improved. It carries a consistent tone throughout, feeling breezy and subtle in it's approach, even when our characters blood boils and the conflict climaxes. It's a super easy watch, which many may enjoy.
The smarter-than-average script is delivered beautifully by our cast, who all elevate the material well. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss arguably gives a career-best performance as wife Beth, who is unsure how to approach her husband about what she overheard. Tobias Menzies is great as ever as Don, a husband that clearly loves his wife despite what he said about her book. The pair, despite their dispute, clearly have a lot of love for each other and it's really endearing to watch; Menzies and Louis-Dreyfuss are great at showing this. In the role of the son is Owen Teague, who actually becomes a scene-stealer as the run-time progresses. As his relationship with his girlfriend breaks down, leading him to move back in with his parents for a short while, he finally plucks up the courage to get some things off his chest with his parents. Michaela Watkins and Arian Moayed are also great as Beth's sister and her husband. Watkins and Louis-Dreyfuss share some great sister scenes together, becoming the movies heart.
You Hurt My Feelings is the kind of film you watch and think you're waiting for something juicy to happen, but once it comes to an end, you realise it was powerful and poignant all along. It won't make your sides split with it's comedy or leave you gobsmacked at it's arguments, but it will deliver a script full of great character development, relatable conversations and a reliable, consistent and comfortable tone. For some, it may be a little too light and airy to entertain and remain memorable. However the performances are great, the conversations being had are interesting and you'll never look at a leaf earring in the same way.