Beatriz at Dinner – A Decent Attempt At Social Commentary

I gave away tickets to this awhile ago so it’s about time that I write something about it.

Synopsis: Beatriz, a self-effacing and spiritual immigrant from Mexico, has spent her adult life caring for the sick while neglecting herself. When her car breaks down and she is stranded at a client’s luxurious Newport Beach home overnight, her well-meaning employer Kathy insists she join them for a dinner party that evening. At an intimate and sumptuous celebration of her husband’s latest business venture, Beatriz is introduced to Doug Strutt, a ruthless billionaire real-estate developer. She listens uncomfortably while Doug brags about his aggressive business tactics, but when he boasts about shooting a rhino in Africa, she can no longer hold her tongue. As opposing world views collide over a dinner table, Beatriz’s pent up outrage spills out in a way that surprises even herself. (Elevation Pictures)

Starring: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, and Connie Britton

Writer: Mike White

Director: Miguel Arteta

Rating: R

Running Time: 82mins

Trailer: 

We live in a different time (I don’t think I have to tell you that) so it’s only inevitable that a film arrives to try and speak to this new world. Beatriz (Hayek) is a modest-living Mexican immigrant who devotes her life towards the caring of others. Through a strange turn of events, she becomes stuck at her rich client Kathy (Britton) who is on the verge of hosting a dinner party for her wealthy friends. Suffice it to say that there was a contrast there with Beatriz and her surroundings.

There was definitely a noticeable difference between Beatriz and the other members of the dinner party. She wears minimal makeup, dresses differently, and has a different attitude. Perhaps representing us, she never seemed to feel comfortable in this mansion and amongst these rich people. This was evident through a range of facial expressions and the awkward manner in which she would interact with the others which was understandable. What didn’t help either was the amount of wine that was consumed.

Things ramped up once one of Kathy’s husband Grant’s (David Warshofsky) business associates showed up. Doug Strutt (Lithgow) is a Donald Trump type businessman whom Beatriz is immediately at odds with. The mood became contentious but Beatriz didn’t care as she believed him to be the source of the Earth’s pain. This was a clash of different socioeconomic statuses, however, the rest of the party simply laughs this off and doesn’t take her seriously.

Seeing the two of them go at it was the best part of the film although the story feels like a leadup to this confrontation and doesn’t offer much else beyond that. The confrontation itself could have gone further as the social commentary was simply a rehash and lacked any impact. With a running time of only 82 minutes, there’s not much to be had character development wise, relying on the obvious parallels. Because the film is just the confrontation, it doesn’t provide much of an ending.

The acting was the best part of the film with Hayek and Lithgow being the standouts. Hayek was compelling to watch as the voice of the people. Her sheer discomfort with her surroundings was palpable thanks to her facial expressions and body language. Lithgow was great as Strutt. He was more of a one-dimensional character who he elevates above what it could have been with anyone else. Seeing these two actors go at it was fun to watch but with better material, could have gone another level.

Overall, this was a decent film, lacking a fleshed out story and characters while not going far enough with its message but is elevated by the performances of Salma Hayek and John Lithgow.

Score: 7/10

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