What an extremely challenging film this was. I'm fairly smitten with this right now, but I'm not surprised as I adore Miguel Arteta's work and consider Mike White a treasure. Beatriz at Dinner sits nicely in 2017 as an examination of Trump's America showing us the line that divides the people with lots and the people with nothing.
Doug Strutt is a Donald Trump's alter ego and Newport is Mar-a-Lago. Since they can't Get Out, the colonized, the marginalized, the exploited, the disenfranchised, the modern slaves, the immigrants can only kill themselves. There will be no evolution. Just an extinction. A bleak, but utterly realistic depiction of The United States of Plutocracy in 2017. It's a "comedy" only for the white upper class.
Truly awkward viewing here that's a clever and effective way to demonstrate the disconnect between our two selves; the sophisticated consumer and the planet damager. Fantastic to see the disgusting practice of big game hunting for fun lambasted as well. All this is packaged together as a sort of straight sitcom that then veers off into magic realism and the haemorrhaged psyche. 3.5 stars
Salma Hayek gives the best role since her famous portrait of Frida Kahlo. "Beatriz at Dinner" bluntly manipulates with some spiritual, emotional and harmony themes, though tv style script and camera work don't allow to turn into more complex and well-heeled dramedy as decent cast (including always shining J. Lithgow and Ch. Sevigny) simply doesn't create the adequate chemistry and temper.
I wonder what this movie would be like told from another perspective, or multiple perspectives? Hayek is great but only seeing the film's social conflict through her eyes gets repetitive. If the initial setting was the bougie castle, and we see Hayek enter into it...? I wonder. Great cast but supporting players get short shrift. There is a sublime moment of violence. Made me wish Enlightened didn't get cancelled.
Salma Hayek anchors an often very funny yet emotionally souring look at friction between classes and what happens when an unseen minority becomes the elephant in the room amongst fat-cats. The moral and ethical vapidness of the characters is solid, with John Lithgow's cocksure mogul character existing on Hayek's level of commanding the screen. A bit too pedantic and dreamlike at times, but well-written all around.
Not entirely the cringe comedy it's being billed as. Indeed, it bites off a lot to chew: not just friction between classes, but different ways of detaching from reality. It can be heady stuff, and I think it demands much subtler satire and balanced observation of human behavior. So much of its comedy seems dreamed up as a sitcom premise, but it's best moments come when it defies its established caricatures.
Of course we’ll line up to see Hayek take on the 1% in frumpy mom-jeans. It’s the movie we deserve! Sadly, it's nowhere near the one we need... At best, a let-down; neither comedic nor dramatic enough to justify the two-dimensional caricatures that pass for its characters. At worst, blatantly opportunistic, and underpinned by a disturbing neocolonial exoticization of the Other. A tepid, well-acted disappointment. 2.5
Salma Hayek gives an incredible performance here and John Lithgow is at his most dickish here. An obvious parallel to Trump era ideals and politics this is a powerful film that has a lot to say about our society and the way we treat other people and the consequences that follow our actions. This is an emotional roller coaster that will make you laugh, cry, and think all at the same time.
I have a special weakness for Mike White, who is probably the writer who has influenced my work the most. Like Laura Dern in Enlightened and Molly Shannon in Year of the Dog, Salma Hayek's Beatriz is a self-righteous (but incredibly earnest) woman who means well, wants to affect change in the world, and suffers tremendously in the process. Also the Enlightend score is used!!