Entertainment » Movies

Beatriz at Dinner

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 12, 2017
Beatriz at Dinner

For much of the plot of the dramatic comedy Beatriz at Dinner, the story of a Trumpesque ruthless property baron who is taken to task by a Mexican Buddhist healer/massage therapist  straddles a fine line between conventional cliches and the possibility of being a powerful wee drama. What pushes it more to the latter are the potent performances of its two stars Salam Hayek and John Lithgow who actually reveal a depth beyond what the script may have called for.

Beatriz (Hayek) is somewhat of a sad soul who lives in a small ramshackle L.A. house with her dogs and goats and divides her time working at the Arendale Cancer Center, an alternative-medicine facility and her private practice. When she finishes most of her working day, Beatriz drives her old Volkswagen up to the palatial seaside mansion of one of her clients, Cathy (Connie Britton), whose teenage daughter she helped to care for when the girl was recovering from chemo. 

Cathy has a had a 'stressful day' organizing a dinner party that her private chef has prepared for an intimate business dinner party her husband Grant (David) is throwing to honor Douglas Strut (Lithgow) a ruthless tycoon who has also been the source for much of their own success.  After Beatriz has finished massaging Cathy, she discovers that her old Volkswagen has finally died and as she needs to wait for her to drive out to help her, Cathy insists that she stay for dinner. It is not an invitation that Grant is keen to endorse as he regards Beatriz as staff, but Cathy insists as Beatriz was the main reason that their teenage daughter has survived all her chemotherapy treatments after she had been diagnosed with cancer.

When the guests arrive dressed in their finery there is an awkwardness at introducing Beatriz still in her working clothes, and at one point, Strutt mistaking her as staff asks her to refresh his drink.  A nervous Beatriz starts drinking too which emboldens her to speak her mind when she discovers that every time Strut builds a new mega-hotel he inevitably destroys the local environment and economy too. It's a set up for an obvious pending row between two strongly held opposing views which is uncomfortable witnessed by the hosts and the two other guests.

The film reunites writer Mike White with director Miquel Arteta (they did 'Chuck & Buck' and 'The Good Girl' together) and they give the film a neat and unexpected ending which helps redeem it from being a conventional bad guys destroying our planet versus the devoted activists determined to save it that it was in grave danger of becoming.

DVD $19.99

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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