Honesty isn’t always literal
Published 11:28 am Tuesday, September 26, 2023
This week at Tryon Theatre we have “You Hurt My Feelings,” a sharp and insightful comedy. This film premiered at The Sundance Film Festival to broad acclaim, with many heralding it’s emotional relatability for any married audience member, even if said relatability is as painful as often as it is humorous.
“You Hurt My Feelings” is a comedic examination of marriage and the process of aging, through the lens of a long-married couple, Beth and Don, with the ever-hilarious Julia Louis-Dreyfus portraying Beth. Interweaving the film’s emotional and narrative threads is the film’s director, Nicole Holofcener, a well-honed hand at the helm of such films, as exemplified in the sublime romantic comedy “Enough Said” (2013).
“You Hurt My Feelings,” like many slice-of-life films, does not tread any new territory in its artistic or emotional beats, nor does it offer any sense of journey or narrative revelation. Rather, this film’s value lies in its everyday qualities, in its choice to focus on the mundane and inconsequential moments of life.
The film, like all, tells a story of specific people in a specific place, specifically: relatively advantaged people living in the Upper East Side. The relatability is found in the emotions of the film, in the universal ways that we communicate with our loved one, sometimes effectively, but more often poorly.
At the film’s opening Beth and Don are living a well-trod routine, a comfortable one, but a complacent one, and one in which the expression of their love often comes in the form of lies to assuage their insecurities. Don is aging, worried about his years registering physically, fussing over new wrinkles, and feeling increasingly detached from his work, while Beth always assures him otherwise. Beth, a teacher and published memoirist, is doubting her work, questioning the validity of her artistic spark, and Don always assures her otherwise. The film’s narrative catalyst is a happenstance eavesdropping, where Beth learns of Don’s doubts regarding her work, and the cycle of loving lies is soon broken, in hilariously escalating ways.
While “You Hurt My Feelings” is centered around strife, it is nonetheless a comedy, one that mines Beth and Don’s bickering for many a well-earned laugh. But, this comedy is catered to an audience, predominantly an adult one. The film is not brashly vulgar or violent, but rather the value of the film’s humor and heart will be most easily appreciated by people who have lived it; those audience members who, like Beth and Don, have lived a long enough life with a partner to understand the compassion and the betrayal of the lies we tell our loved ones.
For any filmgoer who’s ever been married, and anyone looking for some well-balanced laughter and tears, “Your Hurt My Feelings” will leave you smiling, even after its emotional blows. We hope to share some laughs with you soon!