Director Nicole Holofcener has long been one of our great chroniclers of everyday detail, someone willing to marry the funny with the honest, the creative doing mischievous things, for better or for worse. In his first film in a decade – he has made several TV shows in recent years and in 2018 directed and wrote an adaptation of Ted Thompson's "The Land of Steady Habits" – Holofcener returns to classic territory: the story of New York City. The neurosis, good intentions and rejection that keep us up at night. It's about love, of course.
And even though "You Hurt My Feelings" lacks all the things that Holofencer does so well – that honesty, that understanding of the structure of everyday life, that Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the spotlight, where it belongs – it turns out to be. Restrained for such a smart exhaust. The twists are nice enough and there are plenty of laughs and ideas here, but nothing new. If you like Nicole Holofcener's movies, you'll like this one, and there's some comfort in it, if not a hint of despair.
Perhaps this is intentional, since "comfortable but a little underwhelming" often epitomizes the state of long-term relationships in Holofcener's films (and, er, life itself), which is exactly what "You Hurt My Feelings" does. . Beth (Louis-Dreyfus) is a middle-class writer who also gives writing lessons, while her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies), is a therapist who spends his days helping New Yorkers with lessons. (Don't ask how they pay for their nice Manhattan apartment, especially when we're told over and over that Beth's books aren't selling well enough, but at least it creates a nice atmosphere.)
Their son Elliot (albeit idealistic Owen Teague) is trying to become a writer when he's not working at a local hardware store and trying to figure out why he doesn't like his invisible girlfriend anymore. and Beth's sister, Sarah (Mikaela Watkins, also excellent), is bored with her interior decorating job while her husband, Mark (Ariane Moayed), interferes with her unsuccessful acting career. Everyone is happy and their lives swing between love and work, with little else in between.
The central incident of the film – Beth learns from Don that Mark doesn't like his new book because he's struggling to get it published – is no secret. It's long been intended to be a full-length synopsis for the film, and the moment that unfolds is as poignant and terrifying as it should be. Louis-Dreyfus is devastated by the confession, and the actress brings out the full range of emotions Beth feels afterward.
But Holofcener also weaves in other revelations where someone learns a shocking truth about themselves that adds texture to Beth's great pain. Most of these events happen to Don, who, oddly enough, has another bombshell to deal with in the midst of his marital problems: he's a terrible therapist. (The couple, Amber Tamblyn and David Cross, often appear as an argumentative couple through Don, and Zack Cherry is another patient tired of Don's inability to really help.) Don is no longer alone. The one that makes Beth feel bad about her job. Even his agent doesn't like him, and the strange group of aspiring writers who teach at the New School don't even know the title of his most famous book.
Everything seems so real, so close, so familiar. It's not always good. Even moviegoers accustomed to Holofcener films might expect everything to shift into another gear, but it never does, it moves slowly, wears and darkens like an old sweater, never fades .
Other concerns are easily identifiable. Alors que Louis-Dreyfus and Watkins sont très crédibles en tant que sœurs (avec en prime Jeannie Berlin jouant sa mère préférée), d'autres Couples n'ont pas de sensi, come Watkins et Moayed (the couple's plus sent like meilleurs amis que des partners de longue date). comfortable).
Again, maybe that disconnect is the point, but in the moments where the film really shines, there's clearly more clever stuff going on beneath the surface. But Holofcener is also proud of the things that make his work so much fun: the endless walks and conversations in the city, the right costumes and sets for the characters, and the quick editing they do (watch out for Alisa Lepselter). LOL – and "You Hurt My Feelings" is full of all that stuff. Let's hope it hurts a little more.
"You Hurt My Feelings" premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. It will be released this year by A24.