REVIEW: Honesty Is The Best Policy In ‘You Hurt My Feelings’

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You Hurt My Feelings — But Why Tho

You Hurt My Feelings by director Nicole Holofcener is like my ultimate thesis film. I write constantly about the frustration I have with characters who simply don’t communicate, especially when the whole movie hinges on this. It’s not because it’s unrealistic. Nobody communicates perfectly, and most people communicate poorly. But personally, I just can’t abide by it. Any kind of relationship or intimate situation built upon lies, dishonesty, or omission is exceptionally frustrating to me in real life. I’ve been on both ends of it more than enough that when a story premises itself on a refusal to communicate something, it has to work exceptionally hard to prove why it was worth hinging the entire plot or relation on, especially when a whole contrived conflict could have been easily avoided with honestly.

This is why I appreciate You Hurt My Feelings so much. The entire movie is about examining why people lie to each other, empathizing with them, but ultimately, saying they were really in the wrong for having done so no matter what reason they thought they had. Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) accidentally overheard her husband Don (Tobias Menzies) trash-talking the novel she’s been working on for years, which he has insisted repeatedly is great all along. It throws her and everyone around them into a frenzy of discerning the truth from their loved ones and the line between a white lie and a hurtful one.

To talk my own trash quickly first, there are two issues with the movie that bothered me all along. The first is the editing. There are a number is scenes that made me dizzy with how quickly two cameras shot back and forth during a single two-way conversation. Before one character would even finish a line the camera would switch sharply back and forth minutes at a time, after every single sentence. It was nauseating and drew far too much attention to actors’ faces as they spoke to see if the audio was even synced with their mouths as it whipped back and forth before they were done uttering a sentence.

This was the other issue _ the expressions were often too stiff, and only a frustration because the movie draws a ton of attention to it. Aside from the closeup conversation shots, the dialogue also draws stark attention to the work multiple characters have had done on their faces. This isn’t the problem in its own right, but even the actors who haven’t can feel like they’re phoning likes in too. I wouldn’t have been so cognizant of it perhaps without the attention drawn to it, but at the same time, there were well-written and emotional scenes that just didn’t feel lived in completely by either the vets or the younger actors.

And perhaps this is because the movie is ultimately a comedy. And a quite funny one at that. I laughed out loud a lot, and even with my complaints about the dramatic moments nevertheless found those scenes good in the end because they were balanced with perfectly timed comedy. You Hurt My Feelings never feels insincere though, or as if it’s reaching too hard. It’s just simply at its best when it’s being funny, which, fortunately, is most of the way through in one form or another.

And You Hurt My Feelings really does deliver its message well. Through a series of overlapping relationships beyond just Beth and Don, we see the ways lies and a lack of honest communication break people down and make us all worse off for it. Don is a therapist, and we see it happen between him and his clients. Beth teaches a writing course and it happens between her and her students. It happens between Beth and her sister Sarah (Michaela Watkins), between Sarah and her husband, and between all four of them to each other. And most poignantly throughout the movie, we see how it’s played out between Beth and Don and their son Eliot (Owen Teague). No matter how anxiety including watching people lie to each other and then get found out can be, you always know that it’s the whole point, so you’re able to laugh along with it instead of getting frustrated.

You Hurt My Feelings struggles a bit under the weight of its genre, but ultimately delivers with a comedic punch and a strong message all the way through.

You Hurt My Feelings is now playing in theaters.

You Hurt My Feelings
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10


You Hurt My Feelings struggles a bit under the weight of its genre, but ultimately delivers with a comedic punch and a strong message all the way through.

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