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‘You Hurt My Feelings’ Review: Julia Louis-Dreyfus delights in new feel-good rom-com

Married couple Don (Tobias Menzies) and Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) stand side-by-side, looking anxious as they face the hurt that telling white lies can cause.
Jeong Park / A24
Jeong Park / A24
Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star in 'You Hurt My Feelings,' the latest romantic comedy from writer-director Nicole Holofcener.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus reunites with Nicole Holofcener for You Hurt My Feelings, the writer-director’s latest romantic comedy of low-stakes conflict and shrewd humor. Their collaboration on Holofcener's Enough Said (2013) earned Louis-Dreyfus her first Golden Globe nomination for a film role.

Set in New York City, You Hurt My Feelings follows Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Don (Tobias Menzies), a well-to-do married couple. We see the two going about their days, not really loving what they do. Beth is an author, working on her first novel and teaching writing to less-than-thrilling students. Don, on the other hand, is an inconsequential therapist — a fact that his less-than-thrilled clients bring to his attention on a weekly basis.

Despite their professional shortcomings, Beth and Don have an abundance of love for one another. Their mutual affection is on full display during one memorable scene in which the couple share a salad, a sandwich and even an ice cream cone in the park. Their adult son, Elliott (Owen Teague), remarks in mild disgust at their co-dependency as he complains about his own unsatisfying relationship.

When apart, Beth spends time with her sister, Sarah (Michaela Watkins), and Don hangs out with Sarah’s husband, Mark (Arian Moayed). One afternoon, when the guys are out shopping, Beth and Sarah find themselves close by and decide to sneak up on them. That’s when things get crazy.

Well, not exactly crazy, but it is the turning point in the story.

While tiptoeing behind Don, Beth overhears him say that he doesn’t like her new book — the book that he has praised, draft after draft, for the past two years. Feeling completely betrayed, Beth retreats outside, saying, “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

The rest of You Hurt My Feelings shows Beth trying to cope with her newfound distrust of her husband and loss of confidence in her own work. Played by anyone else, Beth’s response could have easily come across as a childish overreaction, but Louis-Dreyfus brings a wholesome sense of hurt to the character’s feelings. She offers an honest look at a woman whose life is disrupted by dishonesty.

Plus, this is Julia Louis-Dreyfus we’re talking about. Playing a disgruntled New Yorker is in her blood (the movie is practically an extended episode of Seinfeld). She does it with conviction and sharp comic timing.

You Hurt My Feelings is tender, witty and entertaining. With a 93-minute runtime, it’s the perfect weekend matinee movie for anyone looking for a laugh and a happy ending.

Some of the film’s more hilarious moments come during Don’s therapy sessions with Jonathan and Carolyn, a relentlessly bickering couple played by real-life husband and wife David Cross and Amber Tamblyn. Their sitcom-style nagging gives the audience something familiar to laugh at, and provides a nice break from Don’s tired and bland persona.

Holofcener proves once again that she can make us laugh, look deeper at ourselves and, in this case, question the consequences of the white lies we all tell.

You Hurt My Feelings is tender, witty and entertaining. With a 93-minute runtime, it’s the perfect weekend matinee movie for anyone looking for a laugh and a happy ending.

Nicole Baxter is a Sponsorship Coordinator and covers film as a contributing writer for Iowa Public Radio.
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