‘You Hurt My Feelings Sundance Film Festival Review: Julia LouisDreyfus Shines Again In Nicole Holofceners Witty And Honest Comedy

‘You Hurt My Feelings Sundance Film Festival Review: Julia LouisDreyfus Shines Again In Nicole Holofceners Witty And Honest Comedy

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It's always a treat when you have a new Nicole Holofcener film, and that's especially true with her latest film starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. You Hurt My Feelings , which premiered at Sundance Sunday night, is the pair's second collaboration, their first being 2013's Enough Said with the late James Gandolfini. This film and other Olofcene writers and directors like Friends with Money, Lovely & Amazing, and perhaps my favorite Please Give ( not to mention the wonderful Can You Ever Forgive Me? ) focused on the unique nature of our relationships with each other in our lives. Holofcener has always had a knack for fixing things, often with intelligence, wisdom and honesty.

This film is one of his best: it is about trust, honesty, truth and lies. Louis-Dreyfus plays Beth, a happily married memoirist who is about to complete her first novel. Along with her sister (Michaela Watkins), she volunteers to help the homeless and teaches a small creative writing class. She appears to be on good terms with her therapist husband Don ( The Crown and Game of Thrones' Tobias Menzies) , a therapist who's growing prouder in his 50s and wondering if he should get cosmetic surgery around his eyes. ("I was very hot," she complains). They are the parents of 23-year-old Eliot (Owen Teague), so close and trusting that he can't believe they're still sharing food with each other, even ice cream cones. So what could go wrong?

To Holofcener's central premise, which has Beth overhearing a conversation with her brother-in-law, an actor named Mark (Arian Moayed), about the frustration of having to read and comment on one draft after another, even though he says he doesn't I like. This really crushes him, but he keeps it to himself until it becomes clear that it has shaken up their relationship. Holofcener is interested in our honesty with loved ones, the "little lies" we tell that may be necessary to show our support and encouragement, but may not reveal the whole truth. Does it matter otherwise in healthy relationships? Holofcener finds plenty of opportunity to explore this, not just with Beth and Don, but with all the key characters who come in and out of this very human character-driven comedy.

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Honesty also shines through in both professions, as Beth tries to encourage her students, not always when necessary. Don also has to tell the truth to a bickering couple (Amber Tamblyn and David Cross, very funny), and arrives in therapy without spectacular results, which eventually leads him to seek revenge. There's also Beth and Sarah's needy mother, Georgia, played to comedic perfection by Jeannie Berlin in a role that could have been played by her mother, Elaine May. Like mother, like daughter, and both extraordinarily brilliant. Teague also has a good role as his son, who works at a marijuana store but tries to become a writer with his parents' encouragement, but maybe not always honestly. Watkins and Moayed provide excellent support.

Ultimately, how hurt can our own feelings and opinions get before they hurt the people closest to us? All presented in a simple but entertaining way by a director whose observations on flaws and human behavior are always present. There's a lot to talk about here on this A24 version, which should sound very good on the special track. Louis-Dreyfus is a comedic talent, having done it again twice this week, not only here but also in Kenya Barris' excellent Netflix comedy, You People. Menzies wasn't the obvious choice, but he really was the perfect actor. Together they create a pretty honest marriage where it really matters, and frankly, at a Sundance festival where they show much darker views of their relationships, You Hurt My Feelings gives me hope.

The producers are Stefanie Azpiazu, Anthony Bregman, Holofcener and Louis-Dreyfus.

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