By – Gareth Jones
For fans of Nicole Holofcener, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, films set in New York, well-written comedies with emotional punch
In between directing a ton of television, Nicole Holofcener has directed eight feature films. Her first, Walking and Talking, released in 1996 set a bit of a blueprint not only for her but many others. It starred the always brilliant Catherine Keener, who along with Parker Posey, ruled the independent world of film with acerbic dialogue and complicated characters. Holofcener was a perfect match. She followed that with an even more accomplished film, Lovely and Amazing. She has continued developing her themes about relationships through this century and worked with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 2013 in Enough Said, James Gandolfini’s second to last film. Needless to say, Holofcener and Louis-Dreyfus have made a successful return together with You Hurt My Feelings.
One of the best things about watching Holofcener’s films is to see how her characters and stories have aged along with her. She is a bit older than me but she does a remarkable job of documenting my generation. In many ways, her approach to storytelling has been greatly influential to several television series (several of which she has directed episodes). In You Hurt My Feelings she tells the story of an author (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who one day overhears her therapist husband (Tobias Menzies) talking negatively about her new novel with his brother-in-law. The film takes multiple perspectives in what could be a relationship breaking experience and examines the ripple effects. No one in this film is unscathed. All the major characters have flaws and positive attributes. Of course, there are moments of true devastation mixed with humor.
Both leads are excellent as usual. I particularly love the work of Tobias Menzies, most well known in America for his performance in The Crown. I loved his stunning role in The Terror. He is an actor who always brings a level of emotional relatability in spite of his leading man features. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s career is bookended by Seinfeld and Veep, but she continues to shine by playing challenging protagonists that we love to laugh with and cry with, often at the same time. Of course, the success of the film is also dependent on the supporting roles. In particular, I was delighted to see David Cross and Amber Tamblyn play a couple going through therapy with Menzies. As a real life married couple, the meta-emotions were rich and piercing.
Finally, this film is another in a long line of movies set in New York and having the city as a character. It does feel like these people could only exist in this city. The level of angst and arrogance mixed with the artistic energy and passion once again proves to be a perfect setting for this story. Although it does not surpass my love for Lovely and Amazing, You Hurt My Feelings continues the storytelling approach that is distinctive to Nicole Holofcener.
You Hurt My Feelings is showing at SIDEWALK FILM FESTIVAL
August 27th, 10:30PM at The Alabama Theater
Written by: Gareth Jones
Presented by Paul Wilm
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