How often have you lied to your loved ones to not hurt their feelings? In our everyday lives, we face the complex choice of either being honest about our feelings or supporting the person in question with some white lies. When we were young, we were told that ‘honesty is the best policy’, but as adults, we now know that the concept of truth and honesty is a lot more complex. There is always a place and time, to be honest, and sometimes you are left to wonder if your truth really matters in the broader scheme of things. You Hurt My Feelings explores the idea of how truth impacts relationships. Do we ever want to know the truth? And does honesty help nurture relationships?
‘You Hurt My Feelings’ Plot Summary: What Happens In The Film?
Beth is a published writer and recently authored her memoir titled “I Had to Tell It.” She considered the memoir an important piece of literary work that deserved more appreciation than it did. After getting her memoir published, she moved on to write a fictional novel. The shift was challenging for Beth, but the support of her loving husband, Don, made the journey a little less intimidating. Don’s opinion mattered the most to Beth, and every draft that she wrote was carefully scrutinized by him. Don’s confidence in her work made her feel hopeful about the novel.
As a therapist, Don is always careful with his words and actions. He was recently bogged down by the realization that he was aging. It was not just his fine lines and droopy eyes but also his inability to remember finer details that got him significantly worried about aging. He could often see the disappointment on the faces of his clients because of his shortcomings, and he wondered if Botox could fix his problem. While Beth was not proud of the fact that her son, Eliot, worked at a pot store, she was hopeful about the play he was working on. They supported and encouraged one another, even if it meant lying about their true feelings. Perhaps the only reason Beth and Don’s marriage was still going strong (unlike Don’s clients) was that they chose not to always be honest about their feelings.
Beth often spends time with her sister, Sarah, an interior designer whose challenging clientele makes her question her profession. Sarah was married to Mark, whose only noteworthy performance was playing a supporting role in a pumpkin film. He always wanted to become an actor, and even though Sarah did not think he was brilliant at his craft, she encouraged him with words of affirmation.
How Did Beth Find Out The Truth?
Beth’s publisher, Sylvia, was not too impressed by her new work. She considered Beth’s approach to be a little outdated and not impactful enough to relate to the new generation. Sylvia proposed that she reassess the final draft before deciding on publishing it. Beth’s confidence was a little tattered after facing Sylvia’s honest opinion. With one negative review, she wondered if she was not good enough. Beth was verbally abused by her father from a young age, and she was reminded of his hurtful insults when she felt low. Watching Beth lose faith in her work, Don suggested she consult another publisher.
One morning, when Don and Mark went shoe shopping, Beth and Sarah decided to surprise them at the store. As the two were sneaking up on their partners, Beth overheard Don criticizing her novel. She was devastated to learn that he did not enjoy reading it and struggled to express his honest opinion. Beth felt cheated; she could not believe that Don lied to her for two years.
Sarah tried to reason with Beth, reminding her how Don must have found the truth impossible to discuss. Beth could not help but worry about all the times Don said he loved something that she did, but in reality, he hated it. She assumed that he hated her memoir, and he judged her teaching job. She started to question everything that he said or did, and the fear kept getting worse. Sarah could relate to Don; she, too, struggled to be completely honest with her husband. She thought he was talented, but his performance was not always that great. But then again, as a designer, she hoped that Mark had been honest about the choices she made.
‘You Hurt My Feelings’ Ending Explained: What Did They Think About Eliot’s Play?
At Mark’s birthday lunch, Beth and Don finally had the discussion. Don initially tried to dismiss what Beth had heard at the store. Beth expressed that she felt cheated and was struggling to trust him with anything. Don admitted that he did not share his opinion because he was not sure how he felt, and he did not wish to discourage Beth. He did not consider it lying; he was simply trying to be supportive, irrespective of his opinion of her novel. But Beth was not convinced by his explanation. After the heated discussion with Beth, Don started to take a new approach toward his clientele. Even though it was not something that was expected of him, Don suggested a couple think about separation because, after witnessing their fight in every session, he believed that they were not meant to be together. Somehow, by coming clean about how he truly felt about Beth’s novel, he could concentrate better on his sessions. He played an active role instead of being the distracted and tired therapist that he had become. After some contemplation and self-doubt, Beth finally received approval from her new publisher.
After returning home, Beth and Don had another problem to solve: Eliot. Eliot was losing confidence in himself as a playwright, and while Beth tried to encourage him, Eliot felt burdened by his mother’s expectations. From childhood, Beth made Eliot believe that he was extremely talented, but gradually he realized that he was not exceptional. He questioned his talent and wondered if his mother had been lying to him all his life. According to Eliot, his mother did not support him in a realistic way. Instead, she built an image of him that he grew up to realize was completely false. Beth was in the same position that Don was in the previous morning. She believed that her supportive statements were innocent and encouraging, but in reality, she lied to make her son feel better about himself. Eliot’s accusation helped Don and Beth come clean about the lies that they had told each other. Don found out that Beth never liked the leaf earrings he always gifted her, and he admitted that he was not fond of the V-neck sweater she bought him. The truth helped them lighten the mood. Don was apologetic for lying about something that was so close to Beth and they were finally able to look past their problem. Throughout You Hurt My Feelings, every character lies for one reason or another, and most of the time, the lies were simply not to hurt the feelings of another person.
You Hurt My Feelings fast forwards to the next year, and we find out that Beth’s fiction novel has been published. For their anniversary, Don and Beth decided to prank each other by recycling the gifts that they had previously exchanged. Eliot joined them for the anniversary dinner, and he felt a little left out by the happy couple. Eliot had always felt that way whenever he went out with his parents. They were so lost in their inside jokes and romance that he often felt neglected. He believed that his parents cared more about each other than they did about him. A few days after the dinner, Eliot handed Beth two copies of the first draft of his play. We also find out that Don went through cosmetic surgery to retain his youthful look, just as he intended to do. Beth seemed unsure about the process, but she lied to him to make him feel confident about the result.
You Hurt My Feelings ends with Beth and Don reading Eliot’s play together. The ending is ambiguous but also suggestive. Considering that the entire film revolves around the idea of white lies and how, as adults, we often resort to them, we can assume that it ends with the same thought. Beth and Don can either honestly express their opinion to Eliot about his play, or they can lie about it to be encouraging parents. Though both opinions do not guarantee anything at all, Eliot could possibly lose complete faith in himself after his parents discuss their honest feelings (if their opinions are negative), or he might admire his parents for being realistic and for not encouraging him to pursue something he is not good at. If they lie and present a dishonest opinion, it might encourage Eliot to dedicate his life to the play, and that can go either way. For example, Don did not enjoy Beth’s novel, but by hiding his true feelings, he, in a way, helped Beth. She wrote the novel and submitted it to another publisher, who loved it, and eventually, the book was published and received good reviews. So, do we always need to express our opinions? Well, it is quite subjective. Opinions are part of an artist’s life, but that does not necessarily determine their talent, and at the same time, there is no real growth without criticism. When it comes to our loved ones, expressing an honest opinion is all the more difficult, but what is important is how and when we present it to them. Constructive criticism can be encouraging when offered with the best of intentions.