Can Wounds Heal?: Our Review of ‘You Hurt My Feelings’ (2023)

Posted in Theatrical by - May 26, 2023
Can Wounds Heal?: Our Review of ‘You Hurt My Feelings’ (2023)

Once in a while, Nicole Holofcener explores other cities like Los Angeles as backdrops for her comedic characters. But just like she did in her screenplay for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, she retirns to New York City’s gentrified brownstone in her new film You Hurt My Feelings. The characters here lament their younger days. Don (Tobias Mezies) talks about being ‘young and hot’ back in the day. And his wife, memoirist and protagonist Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) wonders why her agent can’t sell her foray into fiction. She eventually finds out why. This is because she and her sister (Michaela Watinks) overhear Don tell her sister’s husband (Arian Moayed) that her new draft isn’t as good as the previous work that she published.

Holofcener has the same approach to comedy but her works that I’ve seen so far try them in diffrent frequencies. Friends with Money plays quiet on the big screen but feels bigger on repeat viewings. Forgive is expectedly acerbic yet smooth. The lines in this film won’t feel out of place in a ‘bigger’ movie but there’s an intimacy to the way characters jokingly criticize their friends or give them advice. Hearing these jokes feel like experiencing explosions within a controlled room. The jokes also feel like the ones telling them is the funniest non-famous person you know, but also a person who knows your deepest wounds.

Holofcener actually lives in New York while I only visited it for a week a decade ago, so she knows the city probably better than I do. Most of the cast feel authentic, especially Jeanne Berlin who plays Beth’s mother. She has a way of casting British men as co-leads and making them seem American, but then again most British actors probably know how do that. Not every cast member has that aunethencity though, I’m afraid. Don is a therapist who is not as good as he was before, if he ever was good. And one of his clients include a bickering couple (David Cross and Amber Tamblyn) who don’t feel New York. They live in Queens at best.

Not all of the pieces feel like they 100% belong in the world that Holofcener creates, but maybe that’s the point. Not everyone has to like Beth’s new book but there’s an agent out there who may like it. Similarly, Don’s approach to his clients, or even his changes to that approach, won’t fit all of his clients. Beth and Don are kind of different in that they change differently, and that a lie almost destroys them. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no hope when it comes to their relationship. It’s good that they exist in this films that allows viewers to dig deep. One that requires further pondering.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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