Worth the Wait: You Hurt My Feelings

Finally - a new Nicole Holofcener film!  I mean, it's been nice to see her getting work and recognition writing and adapting other peoples' projects.  But it's been a long wait since we've gotten her directing her own original story - a full decade.  But thanks to the wisdom of A24, she's back and she hasn't missed a step.  I've had You Hurt My Feelings pre-ordered since the day it was announced, and this Tuesday it arrived: a DVD/ BD combo-pack from Lions Gate.  I'm giddy.

In her letters, Jane Austen famously described her work as "the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour?"  This film generally received good reviews, but when I see it get knocked, it's usually for being "small."  The comedy isn't broad and the subject matter is a petty matter given the state of things.  But of course, the drama over whether the husband likes her book is just the visible tip of a whole iceberg of profound issues of self-esteem and trust floating underneath all of our relationships.
I was just debating with my family whether we liked this more or less than Enough Said, and it was a dead split.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus, of course, already proved there what an excellent match she is for Holofcener's words, and she's every bit as funny and real here.  Tobias Menzies I wasn't familiar with, but he knocked it out of the park, too.  And there are so many gems in the supporting cast: Owen Teague from the It films, David Cross, that guy from Severance, Jeannie Berlin as the mom and Sarah Steele, the daughter from Please Give, returns for a fun part.  Oh, and Josh Pais cameos as himself.  Holofcener is fully in her New York element, and it's great to see her capture the spirit of her locations.  My only gripe, and it's a tiny one, is that the music is occasionally a little on the nose.  It's a fitting and appealing score overall, but there are a few points where the piano plinks in just at an emotional line that feels like a nettlesome cue to respond correctly to the scene.  And those scenes didn't need the assist.
2023 Lions Gate DVD top; 2023 Lions Gate BD bottom.
I was expecting to do a straight blu-ray for this one, but since it turned out to be a combo-pack, we get to do a bonus comparison.  This movie has a bit of a hazy, low contrasty brownish look, but putting it alongside the DVD allows us to appreciate the benefits of the blu's high definition.  It's like you're flipping in and out of focus.  And surprisingly, while this obviously features an identical 1.85:1 transfer for the most part, just in differing resolutions, there is one more difference.  The DVD, for whatever reason, is distinctly darker.  Maybe it's a conscious decision, like if they can't display the fine detail clearly, they'll try to hide it with darker shadows, or just a weird mistake.  It doesn't look bad either way, but it's a curious and unexpected distinction.

Both discs feature 5.1 audio, in DTS-HD on the blu, with optional English and Spanish subtitles.
When I pre-ordered this, I was fully prepared for the cheap, Lions Gate mainstream release experience.  So it was a happy surprise when my copy arrived with an audio commentary and featurette.  The commentary's by Holofcener and Louis-Dreyfus, and it's very casual with lots of talk about who likes various articles of clothing, stretches of silence and what food was good on set that day.  But there's good stuff in there, too, including some insight into the writing behind various scenes and alternate lines that were improvised.  And they keep it upbeat and humorous.  The featurette is kind of the same.  We get some welcome interviews with Holofcener and the cast, and a little behind-the-scenes footage, but it is very clip heavy.  Like they're determined to replay every funny moment from the film as if we hadn't just watched it.  So they're good, not great, but overall some welcome extra value, especially since nothing was announced beforehand.  Plus, it's more than we tend to get with Holofcener discs.  We also get a couple bonus A24 trailers (though not the You Hurt My Feelings trailer) and a slipcover.
For me, this was a must-have the day it was announced.  The extras and stuff just make it all the more rewarding.  Now, let's hope it doesn't take another ten years for the next one.

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