Movie, Reviews

“Beatriz at Dinner” a Bad Day for Brunch

Admittedly I adore Salma Hayek, but before I say another word, let me say that if you are not a diehard indie fan that must see every movie she has made, you can pass up Beatriz at Dinner. The movie starts out like a winner and fails to provide anything more than a boring hour and 23 minutes of yesterday’s news.

Beatriz (Salma Hayek), a Mexican immigrant, has been working at a medical center in Pasadena, California for years using her healing hands to help patients that have debilitating illnesses. She also has a string of clients that have been using Beatriz to ease their pain from the daily grind. One of these is Cathy (Connie Britton) who’s married to Grant (David Warshofsky) a wealthy businessman living in the one of the most expensive areas of Newport Beach.

Beatriz (Selma Hayek) gives Doug Swift a look of disgust  in Beatriz at Dinner

On this particular day Grant has set up a dinner party at his home with the main guest being infamous hotel owner and crafty rich businessman Doug Strutt (John Lithgow). Following a massage and holistic treatment she has performed on Cathy, Beatriz’s car won’t start leaving her stranded until a friend can pick her up. Cathy, at the objections of Grant, tells her she can stay and join the guests coming to the planned dinner party. With the party in full swing, Beatriz realizes she has met Doug Strutt under some distasteful circumstances.

John Lithgow as Doug Strutt in Beatriz at Dinner

Director Miguel Arteta’s film plays out at a fast clip, unfortunately much too rapid developing his characters on the fly as they enter their scenes. Other guests include Doug’s wife Jeana (Amy Landecker), Alex (Jay Duplas) and his wife Shannon (Chloe Sevigny), but are just used to amuse, prove a point and insert awkward opinions from time to time. Arteta uses the acidic script by Mike White to air out subjects that are prominent today, most of them sidebars that should prompt raising eyebrows rather than gasps of disbelief.

In one of her unfortunate roles, Salma Hayek walks through the motions of Beatriz with a stern face and an attitude against the world around her. I can’t completely blame Hayek too much for her hopeless performance as the script and director have a lot to do with what’s wrong in the movie. Yet it still amuses me as to why she chose to take on the character. In two scenes she even takes her misery to appalling crescendos of her beliefs.

Beatriz at Dinner has been rated R by the MPAA for language and a scene of violence. While I believe in some of the rants of writer Mike White, taking on all that’s wrong with the world in one short film then rebuking them in two sickening scenes is a bit much.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A fortuitous film that’s already worn-out news.

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Chloe Sevigny, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, David Warshofsky, John Early.
Directed by: Miguel Arteta.
Screenplay: Mike White.
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: R for language and a scene of violence
Running Time: 1 hr. 23 min.
Release Date: June 16, 2017
Distributed by: Roadside Attractions

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com