“You Hurt My Feelings” – A Personal Reflection

Published by Brian on

After I first saw You Hurty My Feelings, I had no intention of writing a review or sharing my thoughts about the film. The Upper West Side characters felt alien to me, and I had trouble empathizing with their struggles. Overall, I enjoyed the humor, acting, and brevity but felt the experience was superficial and vain. I was wrong.

A few days after watching the film, I experienced a professional rejection that made the conflicts in Holofoener’s script especially resonant. I was let go from a writing project because, in very direct terms, I was not meeting quality standards. Despite having success with my editors and clients for some time, and in certain cases receiving glowing feedback, my current work was not cutting it. This is a painful thing to hear, and when I realized Julia Louis Dreyfus’s character, Beth, was going through the same thing when her agent rejected her new book, it made me examine the film’s themes and how I overlooked their reflections in my own life.

A professional rejection can sometimes feel like an indictment of the self, making it seem indistinguishable from a personal conflict. For many, there is considerable overlap in our creative output and interpersonal relationships. Our ability to communicate ideas makes us money and builds the fundamentals of friendships, love and family. Sometimes, we even involve our close friends and family in our creative endeavors, and we inevitably care a great deal about what they think of its quality. This magnifies the emotional impact of rejection.

In parallel with the professional rejection in You Hurt My Feelings, the main character encounters personal resentment from her grown-up son and uncovered criticism from her husband. Both forms of rejection are mirror images of each other but engender similar feelings: mostly failure and inadequacy. Without getting into details, a comparable conflict is playing out between two of my family members. Their feelings of interpersonal failure, along with my professional rejection, have made the emotional currents of the film far more poignant.

Where I think You Hurt My Feelings falls short is in its resolution. In the last few minutes, the film flashes to a year in the future to a happier family with stronger, seemingly healthier relationships. Beth’s new book is published, and she seems to be satisfied professionally again. Her husband has improved his own shortcomings at work, and the son has finally finished writing his screenplay. While these developments don’t feel fully earned, they mostly work to create a positive emotional response, which is often a requirement for drama films made in the modern era.

Categories: Movies