Beatriz at Dinner (2017)


Cast includes: Selma Hayek (Frida), John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun), Connie Britton (Nashville), Jay Duplass (Transparent)
Writer: Mike White (School of Rock)
Director: Miguel Arteta (Cedar Rapids)
Genre: Drama (82 minutes)


Huffington Post

Before leaving for work at the cancer center, Beatriz has a quiet moment at her memorial for loved ones. There’s even a candle for Geronimo, the white goat we just saw in her dream. Beatriz loves all of God’s creatures, especially the ones who need healing. After the cancer center, she heads to Newport Beach, getting stuck in rush-hour traffic. “Sorry I’m so late, Cathy,” she says. “It’s ok. I just have to be done by 6. We have a dinner tonight with work colleagues.” When Cathy senses Beatriz’s sadness, she asks. And Beatriz tells her about the neighbor who killed Geronimo… even though the goat was already dead, Beatriz says, “I could feel his pain.” Cathy feels she owes Beatriz for getting her daughter Tara through her bout with cancer… “a true healer.” After the session, Beatriz finds her car won’t start… she calls her friend to help, but he can’t get there right away. “You should stay for dinner,” says Cathy. “Thank you, Cathy, but I can wait in the car…” Cathy insists, even though her husband Grant knows it’s a terrible idea.

“Beatriz is a friend of the family,” Cathy says when introducing her. There’s mild discomfort all around because Beatriz is clearly not on the same page. When Beatriz finally meets Doug Strutt, mild discomfort turns to outright hostility. “I don’t know why, but I think I know you,” she says. “Did you come here legally?” Doug asks with obvious distain for Mexicans. That’s when we learn that Beatriz’s family was uprooted by a real estate development... “It ruined my whole town 40 years ago.” Tonight’s dinner is to celebrate a big hotel deal, and no one appreciates Beatriz’s view from the dark side. Doug, however, seems to know exactly how to push her buttons… in fact he enjoys it. He insisted on sharing photos (over his wife’s protests) of the rhino he killed on safari. “There’s nothing like looking into its eyes and taking it.” “Are you for real?” says Beatriz… “What is wrong with you? You think it’s funny? I think it’s fucking sick.”

After apologies to Cathy and the guests, Beatriz wonders if “fate brought us together.” “For what,” Doug mocks her. “For revenge, maybe.” Beatriz tries to remove herself from the toxic setting… but there’s already poison in the air. Beatriz at Dinner is a remarkable film. The script, the direction and the acting are all extraordinary… especially Selma Hayek as Beatriz. It’s an uncomfortable space for viewers as well. I would highly recommend seeing it with someone who enjoys discussing movies afterward. There are many threads of conflict that are likely to feel familiar, although hopefully not as extreme. Most of us can think of times when we’ve been disrespected and made to feel small. We know how it feels to alternate between expressing our views and keeping quiet to maintain decorum. Sometimes it’s the world’s worst people who get away with the most disrespectful behavior, while others act as enablers. “Listen Honey, the world doesn’t need you!” Doug says. “You think killing is hard? Try healing.” “This isn’t going to end well.”

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

A caring, gentle healer unwittingly trapped in a confrontation with a powerful sociopath

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Sensitive
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Healing versus cruelty
Language: True to life

Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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