Nicole Holofcener is back. Thank God. A long time ago, she inherited the Woody Allen gene and mixed with Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers. But Holofcener is his own person, and “You Hurt My Feelings,” his latest gem, is like a big New York short story at the movies. It’s so good that I could see it on stage after its theatrical release.
It doesn’t hurt that Julia Louis Dreyfus is his star here, playing Beth, a mildly successful and neurotic Upper West Side writer. Beth is in a long marriage with Don, a shrink (Tobias Menzies), and they have a 23-year-old son (Owen Teague). Their closest friends are Beth’s interior designer sister (Michaela Watkins) and her actor husband (Arian Moayed). They all live a very well built and busy middle class trip, it’s like an old dream come true.
But there’s so much more to the story here, and the theme is accessible to everyone. Packed into a concise hour and a half, all of these people’s troubles have to do with our own insecurities and trust issues, the doubts that plague us about our own lives and what they mean for the future. Even though the age of the actors is all over the card, the characters are supposed to be between 50 and 55 years old. It’s their band’s midlife crisis, and while it could be explosive, Holofcener’s ear is acute and his sense of humor so acute, that the intricacies of situations are a long math problem on a blackboard that has an answer, only you can’t see it until the end.
Holofcener’s ear is precise, just like in his previous films like the terrific “Enough Said”, “Please Give”, and previous hits Lovely and Amazing, and Walking and Talking. Let’s not forget the terrific storyline of “Can You Forgive Me?” She gets some shades like Laurie Colwin or Ann Beattie. You savor them as they unfold.
Julia Louis Dreyfus, who we know so well from “Seinfeld” and “Veep,” is so good all the time, but here she’s richer and even more dimensional. His eyes took on a wise look. I still love Michaela Watkins and she does more than sound like a sounding board for Beth. So men are very good too. The Moayed actor has some nice little insider digs, and Menzies — who we knew as Prince Philip in ‘The Crown’ — can have more fun with patients played by married couple David Cross and Amber Tamblyn .
I stayed up late last night to watch “You Hurt My Feelings” after going through the torture with Jonathan Majors in another Sundance movie, “Dreams Magazine.” I wanted to make sure I didn’t have nightmares. Suffice to say that the Holofcener film did the trick, I slept better than in weeks. My soul felt nourished.