YOU HURT MY FEELINGS
starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Jeannie Berlin
written and directed by Nicole Holofcener
NO HARD FEELINGS
starring Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Matthew Broderick
written by Gene Stupnitsky & John Phillips
directed by Gene Stupnitsky
by Walter Chaw Nicole Holofcener's You Hurt My Feelings belongs, alongside stuff like Tamara Jenkins's Private Life and Lynn Shelton's Sword of Trust, to a very specific sub-genre of comedy. They're talky, WASP-y, verging on the cusp of self-awareness at all times without ever quite slopping over from solipsistic, and clearly courting an educated, middle-to-upper-middle-class (white) audience. I like them, for the most part, with their hangdog protagonists, weary of idiots and drowning in debt to therapists and assorted medical specialists--none of whom seem capable of solving their own existential blues, much less their clients'. I know that emotional quagmire. I've made maps of it. This is the playland to which Zach Braff and Alison Brie bring their gnarled cinematic projects as well, slumming them up in quotidian drag so that their appeals to melancholy ring hollow, manipulative, and self-serving. They lack authenticity; their troubles aren't lived-in but instead theoretical put-ons--the fake stories successful people tell at champagne brunches to appear afflicted by the same disappointments as you or me. You Hurt My Feelings doesn't feel natural, either, I have to say, although that's more to do with saturation than disingenuousness. I feel like I just saw Julia Louis-Dreyfus doing this in You People; I feel like indie comedies on indie budgets are all doing variations of the "talking in different found sets" thing. I feel like this is the third or fourth time this year I've been caught in a dense conversation with the same people complaining about the same problems in the same tone. It's that phenomenon where you try to give your baby a novel name, and when they reach school-age, it turns out everyone in their class is named the same thing.