“The Feels” probably slipped by most people’s radar, an indie film that was released on Netflix earlier this year with no fanfare or advertising, but it’s something that deserves an audience. “The Feels” follows the couple Andi (Constance Wu) and Lu (Angela Trimbur) on their bachelorette weekend, where Lu accidentally drunkenly reveals that she has never had an orgasm. Andi is surprised by this as 1) she states the Lu is the best sex she’s ever had and 2) Lu had been convincingly faking orgasms for their entire relationship. While on the surface, this movie may seem like it’s about sex, really, the key takeaway from this film is the importance of communication, and the damage and hurt a lack of communication can cause. This message is mostly explored in the aftermath Lu’s accidental confession had on her relationship with Andi. Both are devastated and insecure after the bachelorette party, Andi is hurt that Lu lied to her for so long, and would have kept lying to her, as well as being worried that their relationship won’t last if she can’t make Lu “feel good”. Lu in turn feels ashamed of herself, and intimidated by Andi’s anger. So many of their problems could have been avoided if they just talked to each to begin with.
We also see the negative consequences of a breakdown in communication in Lu’s sister Nikki’s (Jenee LaMarque) relationships. One of the other storylines of the film is that Nikki is going through a divorce, and she hasn’t told her sister. Lu is the last of those attending the bachelorette weekend to find out about Nikki’s divorce and becomes upset that her sister didn’t share this with her. Later on, when the characters’ begin to learn their lesson and actually open up and talk to each other, Nikki reveals to Lu that the reason her marriage failed is because she wasn’t able to tell her husband what she needed from him, and ended up cheating on him, and urges Lu not to make the same mistakes she did.
Something that really struck me about this film, aside from the important emphasis on communication, was the use of documentary style interviews in which each character discusses their first (positive) sexual experiences. These segments don’t have any bearing on the plot, but they give a lot of insight into the more minor characters. In these segments, two of the characters briefly mentioned they are survivors of sexual assault. In an overwhelming majority of the media I have seen that explores sexual assault, the writers seem to want make it as horrific, triggering and “in your face” as possible, which is why I was surprised at how subtly the writers alluded to these events in the characters’ pasts, and that when discussing what happened, the focus wasn’t on the assault itself but how proud the characters’ were of themselves for becoming more confident in their sexuality and they discussed the experiences that made hem feel safe and in control.
I watched “The Feels” because I wanted to see Constance Wu kissing girls, but to my surprise the main reason I found it so compelling was because I haven’t seen many movies that examine the effects of communication and being open with your partners and other loved ones, even though it’s such a simple and important topic. The short interview segments with each character emphasised that it’s ok to talk about sex and be confident in your sexuality in a really unique and interesting way, which added a lot to the film. This is definitely something worth watching, but if I haven’t convinced you with this analysis of character and relationships and central themes, then like I said, Constance Wu kisses a girl and it’s pretty great.
- Tara O Cleirigh