Sundance 2023 review: You Hurt My Feelings

Writer and director Nicole Holofcener has undoubtedly proven her talent with films like Enough Said and Friends with Money, but her 2023 Sundance feature, You Hurt My Feelings, comes off frustrating, not funny, as jokes fall flat and characters are continually kicked when they’re down.

Though writer and teacher Beth’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) memoir definitely wasn’t a bestseller, she’s hopeful that her debut novel will do great. Unfortunately, after spending two years writing it, her publisher implies that it might not be able to compete with fresher voices in the market. Thankfully, her supportive husband Don (Tobias Menzies), who has read many drafts, insists that it’s good and she simply needs a new publisher. While Beth is out with her sister, Sarah, they spot Don with Sarah’s husband, Mark. Planning to surprise their husbands, they sneak up to them but then overhear Don telling Mark he doesn’t like the book. Beth’s feelings of inadequacy are confirmed, and she feels betrayed by her husband, whom she becomes passive-aggressive towards.

Beth isn’t the only one with work problems. Sarah seems fed up with her job, Mark feels inadequate at his, and Beth’s son, a writer struggling to finish a play, says his girlfriend is disappointed he only works at a marijuana shop. Don, a therapist, also has problems, as he begins hearing complaints from his clients that he doesn’t help them — and he doesn’t. In one way or another, almost every character’s situation is made worse and it becomes a little too repetitive. Louis-Dreyfus and others have great delivery, but jokes about Beth’s memoir failing because her father “just verbally abused” her as a child, and what seems like disappointment over her student’s choice to write about a day at the zoo instead of an experience with a perverted stranger don’t work.

Additionally, Beth and Sarah’s bitterness over volunteer work, their condescending attitude towards their mother, and Don’s uncomfortable interactions with clients come off more awkward than anything.

Saving graces include You Hurt My Feelings’ talented actors, some funny personality quirks of its characters, and, eventually, heartfelt moments. The fact that outlets like Variety and the New York Post are offering high praise doesn’t hurt either. While there is some pressure to agree with others and make this review more positive, as the film goes on to show, honesty is often the best policy.

You Hurt My Feelings screens again on Jan. 27 at the Grand Theatre in SLC and Jan. 28 at the Library Center Theatre in Park City.

Find all our Sundance coverage from this year and year’s past. And while you’re here, subscribe and get six issues of Salt Lake magazine, your guide to the best of life in Utah

Jaime Winston
Jaime Winston
Jaime is a contributing writer for Salt Lake magazine. Formerly, he served as our editorial intern, then as our assistant web editor, and, finally, as our web editor. While he covers many different topics, he is especially interested in nerdy entertainment, from FanX's artist alley to Sundance's Midnight screenings.

Similar Articles

Most Popular