Beatriz at Dinner (2017)
Critic Consensus: Beatriz at Dinner offers timely social commentary enlivened by powerful, layered performances from Salma Hayek and John Lithgow.
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Critic Reviews for Beatriz at Dinner
"Beatriz at Dinner" is a meal of a film, with plenty to chew on.
The menu for "Beatriz at Dinner" is more appetizer than main course.
Together, screenwriter Mike White and his Enlightened director Miguel Arteta have an almost magical way with light-touch verbal sparring, an art that's become lost in today's broad, banter-filled comedies.
Beatriz at Dinner works well beyond both lecture or lesson because of the care and attention everyone has put into the people that play them out.
As obvious as the movie's intent and execution are, it gnaws at the conscience thanks to the brilliance of the lead performances.
Audience Reviews for Beatriz at Dinner
OH DEAR, WHITE PEOPLE - My Review of BEATRIZ AT DINNER (3 Stars) On paper, it seems like a slam dunk. Director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White (THE GOOD GIRL, CHUCK AND BUCK) have teamed up again for another squirm-inducing comedy and have provided a strong for a talented actor in the process. Unfortunately, BEATRIZ AT DINNER employs an easy target (rich, clueless white people) and surrenders to the hopelessness of its premise. It's a perfect film for the Trump Era, but not necessarily a satisfying experience. Salma Hayek plays Beatriz, a Healer who spends her days treating the terminally ill, lives in her humble Alta Dena home with her pets, including a noisy goat. Hired by the wealthy mother Cathy (Connie Britton) of one of her cancer patients to provide an at-home massage, Beatriz finds herself stuck at Cathy's mansion when her car won't start. Cathy and her uptight husband Grant (David Warshofsky) are hosting a dinner party that night and Cathy, who feels such a strong connection to Beatriz for helping her daughter, insists she stay for dinner. This would all seem very nicey-nicey if it weren't for the fact that we learned earlier that someone has killed one of Beatriz's goats, and this inner turmoil will carry over into her day. Cathy and Grant have invited over two rich couples, Trump-esque land baron Doug Strutt (seriously!) played by John Lithgow and his wife Jeana (TRANSPARENT'S Amy Landecker), and Shannon (Chloë Sevigny) and her young turk husband Alex (TRANSPARENT'S Jay Duplass). They've come together to celebrate a shopping center development that will displace some animal life. This, of course, disgusts Beatriz, who dives headlong into confronting this gaggle of somewhat coarsely-drawn boobs. She stands out from this chic crowd as she's dressed in khakis and a polo shirt and waits awkwardly on the periphery before being introduced. Naturally, the casual racism inherent within this group allows for someone like Strutt to assume she's part of the house staff. White and Arteta do a terrific job with the uncomfortable material during this section, although, again, demonizing the "unwoke" 1 percenters is like shooting fish in a barrel. Although every insensitive interaction with Beatriz rings true, we're dealing with a fairly one-note cast of characters, with Hayek and Lithgow being the exceptions. Sure, people like Landecker's character will change the subject of class differences to a pop culture, but when we know so little about her, it comes off as slightly cartoonish. She's such a great actor that she manages to make Jeana memorable and entertaining, but it's still thin. For much of the film, we watch as Beatriz wakes up and realizes how screwed the world is when the people in power have so little regard for the working class. Hayek brings a huge amount of empathy to her role, blossoming in close-up after close-up, communicating complex emotions with great purity and ease. It's the most mesmerizing performance of her career so far and makes the film worth seeing. Lithgow also nails his scary mogul, slowly revealing the evil underneath the casual smarm. BEATRIZ AT DINNER works for its first two thirds as an entertaining, sad look at the class struggle, warmly shot by Wyatt Garfield (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD), fully enveloping us into Beatriz's point of view. With every slight, every ignorant or entitled declaration, we feel Beatriz die just a little. The third act, however, goes off the rails a bit, playing more to Beatriz's weaknesses instead of her strengths. Many may view her as a depressed killjoy, while others will see a brave warrior. Neither opinion is wrong, and the film tries to have it both ways with an ending that likely won't satisfy anyone.
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