You don’t need marriage counseling to read these people.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her “Enough Said” director Nicole Holofcener both make another worthy collaboration in “You Hurt My Feelings,” a dramedy that knows how to be funny without trying so hard and how to be sad without being so whiny. I knew it had something to do with marriage problems, but this movie isn’t really about that. It’s more about how these characters express their feeling through words and not middle fingers.
Louis-Dreyfus plays Beth, a novelist who runs a class and helps out the homeless in her spare time. She also becomes self conscious about her latest book and what people think of it.
Here are the people in her life.
Her younger husband Don (Tobias Menzies) is a psychiatrist, who can’t help out a bickering couple (David Cross and Amber Tamblyn) or a moper (Zach Cherry) with their respective problems. Especially since one of them always leaves insulting comments at the end of their sessions, via Zoom and in person.
Her son Eliot (Owen Teague) manages a pot shop, while trying to write a book and getting over a bad break-up.
Her sister Sarah (Michaela Watkins) has a husband named Mark (Arian Moayed), who is a down-on-his-luck actor.
And their mother Georgia (Jeannie Berlin) is a bit overbearing, as she comments on how she hates the term “lady” and prefers “women,” and how her two girls are always asking for donations. The clothes they give to the homeless.
But the biggest turmoil in Beth’s marriage is the way she and Sarah overhear Don telling Mark that he isn’t a fan of her latest book. This is when she begins to distance herself from him. And when they do have the scene, it doesn’t resort to cursing or violence, but rather the right words to allow this couple to express how they compare and contrast books to the author herself.
Other than some unnecessary lines (and Beth and Sarah should know better than to try to bring ice cream into a clothes store), “You Hurt My Feelings” has sentimental value and honest humor that we can relate to. We can relate to our kids and parents, and how they have their own issues about whether or not they can handle criticism.
Louis-Dreyfus works well with Holofcener, because of how she writes the former “Seinfeld” actress with vulnerabilities that allows us to see the spark in her performance. It’s miles ahead of how Nat Faxon and Jim Rash failed to grasp that very notion in their lousy entry “Downhill.” This isn’t overly emotional; its truthful and patient. And literally, “Enough Said” and “You Hurt My Feelings” have been released a decade apart from each other.
I’ve never heard of Menzies (“Casino Royale,” “The Crown”) before, but I was interested in how he would play a man balancing his life as a therapist and a husband. And there’s a strong sense of comedy and pathos between him and Louis-Dreyfus, as well as the counseling scenes between Cross and Tamblyn.
There’s a strong sense of life in the characters, and there’s an honest sense of humor that keeps the film going. It isn’t too much and it isn’t less. It’s all in perfect balance. We’re supposed to listen to these characters and their troubles. And Holofcener understands them quite well.
Sign me up for the next counseling session.