“You Hurt My Feelings,” a comedy about an unexpected round of marital discord, plays at the M.V. Film Center on May 31. Directed by awardwinning Nicole Holofcener, the film opened at the Sundance Film Festival, and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, already well-known for her Emmy-winning role on “Seinfeld.” She now has earned a Golden Globe nomination for this film.
“You Hurt My Feelings” takes a comic look at what happens when things go awry in an apparently happy marriage. Louis-Dreyfus plays Beth, who’s had a moderately successful memoir published, and now is working on a novel. Tobias Menzies plays her husband, the less-than-successful therapist Don.
The film opens with Don trying to counsel Carolyn (Amber Tamblyn) and Jonathan (David Cross), who argue incessantly, and in fact have nothing good to say about each other. It’s an illustration of Don’s failings as a therapist. One little deception after another feeds the comedy that raises the question of just how honest you can be before a basically happy relationship comes crashing down.
Everything goes fine in what seems like a very affectionate relationship. Then Beth overhears Don dissing her writing. Not just the 20 drafts of her novel that she’s turned in to her editor and showed Don, but his encouragement in general of her writing skills. One of the silly little touches is that Beth overhears her husband dissing her skills at the sock display of a Paragon Sports store.
She takes her hurt feelings to her sister Sarah (Michaela Watkins). The catch is that Sarah’s having her own problems with her struggling actor husband Mark (Arian Moayad), who had been all ears about Don’s complaints. So she disses her husband the way Don has with Beth. Plus, Sarah, who is an interior designer, is constantly frustrated by a persnickety customer who rejects every decorative detail Sarah has to offer. In another example, Don gives a pair of earrings to his wife that Beth doesn’t particularly like, but how honest should she be to her clueless husband about her dislike?
When Beth walks into a Manhattan bookstore, she finds her memoir buried in the sale bin. Another time, she struggles to get sympathy at a bar from a hostile lesbian couple. Beth and Don also have a son, Elliot, who complains about his parents for having been so supportive of his own writing talents.
The viewer can see the humor in these neurotic New Yorkers, all of whom lack the necessary amount of self-confidence. Each has their own anxieties, which come to the fore in increasingly but understandably comic ways.
Information and tickets for “You Hurt My Feelings” are available at mvfilmsociety.com.