Nicole Holofcener‘s You Hurt My Feelings (A24, 5.26) is basically about an older writer named Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who feels devastated when she accidentally overhears her therapist husband Don (Tobias Menzies) confess to a close friend that he doesn’t much care for her latest book.

This is a film, in short, about the necessity of supportive lying by those close to aspiring writers (lovers, family, spouses, good friends). Writers can’t reasonably expect honest assessments from anyone close, and there’s really only one way to play it if a significant-other writer asks for constructive criticism — you’ve no choice but to be positive and supportive because any kind of mixed or mezzo-mezzo response will only poison the well or drive a wedge between you.

On top of which if you’re possessed by any kind of real talent you would naturally understand this going in. If you’re any kind of solid, perceptive, grade-A writer you should know how good you are without being told, and if you don’t know this you’re probably a second-rater…be honest.

There’s no winning in intimate situations of this sort. As a rule artists never want to hear that their child is ugly or homely or under-developed or God forbid deformed, and like I just said if a writer doesn’t know this about their own kid they’re probably mediocre anyway and not worth the hassle. People close to you will never level with you about how good your writing is, mainly because every emotional instinct in their body is telling them “go easy, be supportive, be loyal and avoid blunt statements of any kind.”

Boiled down Holofcener’s film is approvable in a moderately satisfying way. It’s a perceptive, well-layered, occasionally amusing, engagingly acted film. But it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know going in. And it doesn’t have one of those big blow-out scenes…one of those scenes in which it all comes spilling out in one big gush.