Beatriz at Dinner           review by Bobby Blakey

There are films that come along that the trailer just grabs you. Whether it is the cast or the subject matter there is just something about it that instantly gets your brain intrigued. That was the case for me when I saw the trailer for Beatriz At Dinner starring Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Chloe Sevigny, Connie Britton, and Jay Duplass. There looked to be something dark, unique and powerful here, but does it live up to the promotion or does it fail to offer up that expected aura?

Beatriz At Dinner follows a self-effacing and spiritual immigrant from Mexico, who has spent her adult life caring for the sick while neglecting herself. When her car breaks down and she is stranded at a client’s luxurious Newport Beach home overnight, her well-meaning employer Kathy insists she join them for a dinner party that evening. At an intimate and sumptuous celebration of her husband’s latest business venture, Beatriz is introduced to Doug Strutt, a ruthless billionaire real-estate developer. She listens uncomfortably while Doug brags about his aggressive business tactics, but when he boasts about shooting a rhino in Africa, she can no longer hold her tongue. This is one of those movies that will no doubt split audiences as there is so much great here, but then there are elements that could frustrate some. I will say before getting into the meat of the review that the finished product was not the film I thought I was going to get at all which was a bit disappointing, but still offers up something good.

This is a fairly slow film by design allowing the characters to drive the film which is a good thing here. Hayek gives an excellent performance offering up a wide range of emotions to this character that is needed to understand the full impact of her actions. She embraced the role both in performance and physically making her stand out among the rest of the cast. Lithgow is equally as brilliant offering up a stuck up swag to the role with hints of someone you could like, but that is often overshadowed by something to remind you of who he really is. The rest of the cast do a fine job as well, but this is really on the shoulders of these two for it to really work. Their interaction was not nearly as dark and offensive as I had expected from the trailer, but still offers up a commentary on the differences of classes. If you really pay attention there are so many moments that showcase this judgmental diversity without a word being said through visuals making it all the more powerful.

The story itself never fully hit its complete mark for me to get the full result I believe they were going for. Thanks to the great performances and genius design it still worked, but could have been so much more. One issue that could really divide people is the ending. It went the direction I expected initially only to shift direction in a way that will confuse some and work for others. I get the idea they were shooting for, but I think made it lose the impact it initially offered, but I still applaud director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White to sticking to their vision that actually stays more true to who this character is than some might understand.

Grab your copy of Beatriz At Dinner available now on Digital HD and then DVD on September 12th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. 

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