You Hurt My Feelings Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nicole Holofcener, and Tobias Menzies!

May 26, 2023

Do people want honesty or better fiction? We’ve all heard the thought experiment of someone stepping out of the changing room, asking their spouse, “Does this make me look fat?” Most of us have probably experienced something similar, and if it’s someone we love, we probably gravitate more toward kind flattery than cold objectivity. It’s even trickier when we share a piece of ourselves, something we’re passionate about, or our profession. When we invite others to judge us, how open is the invitation, really? Are we asking for facts or comfort? And how comfortable is a lie?

These are some of the questions asked by the new film You Hurt My Feelings, which even in May, sits confidently among the best films of the year. In the film, a writer named Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) learns that her husband Don (Tobias Menzies) doesn’t actually like the book she’s been writing for two years; in fact, despite constantly encouraging her with compliments, he actually loathes it. This causes a ripple effect among Beth’s life, threatening to disrupt the careful contentment the couple has built for themselves over the years.

Written and directed by the great Nicole Holofcener (Lovely & Amazing, Please Give), You Hurt My Feelings is a masterpiece in miniature. Like her best films, it exposes one small idea and picks at it like a scab until it’s something massive, painful, and impossible to ignore. It explores self-doubt and insecurity (which is perhaps exacerbated among creative types who bare their soul for their profession), but in extremely delightful, charismatic, funny, and meaningful ways. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, and Nicole Holofcener spoke with MovieWeb about the film.

Nicole Holofcener Casts You Hurt My Feelings

Jeong ParkA24

A decade ago, Holofcener and Louis-Dreyfus worked together on the immensely sweet rom-com Enough Said, which featured one of the last (and best) James Gandolfini performances. That film was a big success for Holofcener, garnering near universal praise (resulting in a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and making more than three times its $8 million budget. While the past decade has been an interesting one for Holofcener (in which two of her scripts were helmed by other directors for once, including the masterpiece Can You Ever Forgive Me?), she knew that she wanted to work with Louis-Dreyfus again.

“I’ve always been an enormous fan of hers,” explained Holofcener. “And the fact that she wanted to be in Enough Said was thrilling, and she was absolutely right for the part. So I asked her. I didn’t know that would happen. But having had that happen, I wanted to work with her again immediately. It took a lot of years, but I told [her] the premise of this, and I said, ‘Might you be interested in being in a movie about this?’ And she said, ‘Yeah.’ So I was able to write it, or continue to write it, with her in mind, which is a blessing to have because I pictured her saying everything. That’s a gift.”

Meanwhile, Holofcener had seen Tobias Menzies’ work with the wonderful Sharon Horgan on her series This Way Up (he also starred in her hit show, Catastrophe), and he stuck with her. “Yeah, I mean, I saw Tobias in something, and I said, ‘I want that guy.’ And I had no idea if I was gonna get him. So I didn’t take that for granted, but I knew I could get [Louis-Dreyfus],” laughed Holofcener. “So in that respect, it was a luxury, but I don’t always have that luxury.”

Tobias Menzies Gets Inside the Mind of Holofcener


For his part, Menzies was excited to just work with Holofcener. Most people may recognize the incredible theater actor from much more serious (and much more British) television series like Game of Thrones, Outlander, and The Crown, but Menzies has a wonderfully dry streak of humor present in UK comedy shows. He’s deeply warm in You Hurt My Feelings as a therapist who fears that his patients aren’t getting anything constructive out of therapy at best, and actually hate him at worst.

Related: You Hurt My Feelings Review: A Perfect Delight

Menzies’ quiet but magnetic presence fits the film perfectly, and he was happy to accommodate whatever Holofcener wanted. Her films have some of the best women characters in cinematic history, but he doesn’t get short-changed here. “Really, it’s about the writing, and about how Nicole looks and sees the world,” explained Menzies. He continued to rave about Nicole Holofcener’s aesthetic:

It’s really kind of insightful. It’s emotionally intelligent and interested, but also very funny. That mix of comedy that’s really woven into quite particular, authentic lived experience is my favorite type of comedy, and it’s the sort of films I’m very drawn to. So yeah, having an opportunity to come and just spend some time in Nicole’s brain was a bit of a no-brainer, really. Holofcener pretends to take $20 out of her pocket and hand it to Menzies, as if she’s paying him to repeat this each interview. She’s quick and sardonic, but doesn’t seem to push anyone to the outside of an inside joke. The three of them interact well together, though they’re tired. It’s a long day of interviews; everyone wants to talk about You Hurt My Feelings.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Runs from the Derivative


Julia Louis-Dreyfus is obviously an icon, and is the big draw to the film for most audience members who haven’t heard of Nicole Holofcener or aren’t familiar with the consistently high quality of A24 productions. If Louis-Dreyfus is in your project, you have a guaranteed audience.

She’s incredible in You Hurt My Feelings, and it’s great to see her in films; aside from Marvel, she only appears here and there in movies. That’s probably because a solid two decades of her life has been spent being attached to wildly successful TV shows, be it Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine, or Veep. If only Watching Ellie had been a success; it’s woefully underrated, and almost feels like Nicole Holofcener herself was directing 24.

Related: Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ 5 Best Performances, Ranked

Holofcener certainly wishes to work with Louis-Dreyfus again; will she lead films more frequently, or is she open to doing another seven or nine-year-long television series at this point in her career? ” I am very happy to find good material wherever it is,” said Louis-Dreyfus quite simply. “So if it’s a series that goes for a few years, I’m down for that. If it’s a film that shoots for a couple of months, you know, in wherever, I’m down for that too. I’m just on the lookout for fresh material that is not derivative, and is something I can really sink my teeth into. But not I’m not like thinking of it in terms of genre, per se.”

Louis-Dreyfus could easily become Holofcener’s new muse. You Hurt My Feelings is missing the filmmaker’s previous leading lady, the incredible Catherine Keener, who had appeared in every one of Holofcener’s films for 20 years up until 2018’s The Land of Steady Habits. “It’s my second film without Catherine Keener,” said Holofcener. “But I loved working with her, and that was a blessing. And we might work together again, as well. I just landed on this one this time.” You Hurt My Feelings is a masterpiece and doesn’t need any changes; that being said, Keener is dearly missed.

A Good Lie

An interview is a kind of fiction itself, often a polished fib. The lights are on, makeup is applied, smiles are stretched (at least for the ‘talent’). The same responses are performed to each outlet with minor variations throughout the junket, like a Steve Reich composition. We all do our part. Every film is ‘great’ and deserves ‘congratulations.’ Every artist is happy to speak about it. Fans see these slices of our days, interviewers and interviewees, edited together, and assume the fiction for fact.

“I think that most people would prefer to be lied to, and lied to well enough so that they believe it,” said Holofcener. “A bad lie is awful. I think that’s worse than hearing the truth. Or hearing nothing.”

“A good lie is great, if you don’t know what’s happening,” added Louis-Dreyfus.

“Yeah, exactly. Lie to me well. Then I can sleep at night.”

From A24, You Hurt My Feelings is a FilmNation Entertainment and Likely Story production, and releases in theaters on May 26th.​​​

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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