Beatriz at Dinner
Directed by: Miguel Arteta
Starring: Cast: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, Chloë Sevigny and David Warshofsky
Run Time: 1h 23min
3 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
If you want to see with an interesting plot but with personalities who are deeper than the usual two-dimensional characters in narratives of late, see Beatriz at Dinner this weekend. It’s quite unique. Straight away we meet the protagonist of the story; Beatriz (Hayek) who is a faith healer and we get to know her, her kind heart and her abilities through director Miguel Arteta’s (The Good Girl) choice to show Beatriz surrounded by and or use her religious trinkets and incense, as well as her taking time to meditate and take care of her animals, as she takes care of herself in her home. This introduction scene is right before she heads to the cancer center to perform Reiki and breathing treatments on the cancer patients she helps. She has many strong beliefs and these have served her well and many have benefited from her kindness, study and affirmations.
After her trip to the center, she has a one on one appointment with Cathy (Britton) to provide massage. Beatriz had once helped heal her and her husband Grant’s (Warshofsky) daughter when she was stricken with cancer and this endeared her to Cathy forever. Incredibly grateful for Beatriz coming into their lives, Cathy would do anything for the woman whom she got to know so well through the most traumatic time of her life.
On this particular day, Grant and Cathy are hosting a dinner for Grant’s business partners. When Beatriz is on her way out, her car breaks down and Cathy extends an invite for her to stay until her car can be repaired. It won’t be long before Cathy finds out she doesn’t know Beatriz very well at all because as their guests arrive, Beatriz doesn’t only look and feel awkward and out of place but IS and couldn’t act any more excruciatingly unconventional; as far as this group of out of touch, narrow-minded, arrogant millionaires is concerned, that is. The guests are hard for Beatriz to understand and fit in with. She doesn’t much care to be around them either. She’s very in tune with animals, nature, the earth and other people. She doesn’t like negative energy and being an empath, she is picking up from their aura’s a heavy, cynical and grisly vibe just being near them… one she would like to get away from but with her car trouble, she’s stuck. She stays away from every one of them some so she may generally stay positive.
Appearing graceless to them when she tries to join the conversation, she doesn’t get the hint when they try to somewhat delicately direct the conversation away from her. This makes Cathy and Grant rather uncomfortable; Grant is embarrassed for himself, Cathy much more so for her friend. During dinner, Doug Strutt (Lithgow; our antagonist), a strong-minded and sharply tongued hotel owner, zeroes in on her. He is the embodiment of everything she rejects. Never being one to back down, she doesn’t. And Doug, not used to having people stand up to him, he is taken aback when she attacks him for being a big game hunter who also pollutes the earth and takes advantage of people for profit. At a moment alone, she looks him up on the computer and finds more about Strutt and likes him even less when she learns a certain place he may have destroyed.
There are subtle and not so subtle messages about U.S. politics, reincarnation and why we should be caring for this planet. Beatriz not only heals but may be able to reverse those abilities, as well, which is quite interesting. She knows that we should treat the earth and all on it with love; that said, the end of the film is both beautiful and significant but also alarming. She knows fate has brought her and Doug together but I’ll let you discover why. I’ll let you decipher the ending without my injecting my thoughts but it’s deep… much deeper if you allow yourself the time to dive into it. Hayek is fantastic but Lithgow is simply menacing in this role. I prefer to watch him do parts that show him in the more negative light… he does it so well and Doug Strutt is a whole lot of negative for one film and worth the trip to the theatre to watch.