Review by: Carolina Jones
Off top, BEATRIZ at DINNER written by Mike White and directed by Miguel Arteta has two big pluses. John Lithgow and Selma Hayeck. What does dinner between the havs and have-nots look like? Where on earth is the middle ground between ‘ love of human life’ and ‘money and success’? Beatriz at Dinner strives to bring this contradictory mindset into focus.
Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a spiritual healer who immigrated from Mexico. It’s evident from the first moments of the film that life has not been the easiest for her. But as we follow Beatriz throughout her day we can clearly see she cares for people. Her car breaks down at a wealthy client’s house and she is invited to stay for dinner and wait for the tow truck in the morning. Great right? Only the dinner party is being held for her spiritual and philosophical polar opposite billionaire Doug Strutt (John Lithgow).
The interactions that ensue between the wealthy ladder climbing guests and Beatriz brings to light economic inequalities, human compassion and conservation. Funny at times, Beatriz at Dinner is uncomfortable to watch. You want her fit in and acclimate easily the BS but Beatriz is that elephant in the room that never goes away.
Is it even possible to have Strutt and Beatriz in the same room for more than 30 minutes? Hayek and Lithgow prove to be bright spots as they play out their opposite dynamic very well. However, the problem is I like the douche better than the saint. And that’s not good. This was supposed to be Beatriz’s story but it never quite seems to reach full potential.
Go see Beatriz at Dinner and see what kind of questions you leave asking yourself. Because, if nothing else, you will wonder which of these two people you are and why.