Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a masseuse who makes house calls. One day, after an appointment at a client’s enormous home, her car breaks down. Kathy (Connie Britton), Beatriz’s friend and client insists that Beatriz stay for dinner while she awaits her tow. It turns out Kathy and her husband will be hosting a real estate magnate, a legal superstar in training and their lovely wives. Kathy and her husband Grant (David Warshofsky) are celebrating the closing of another sizable real estate development deal. Grant is mortified that Kathy wants someone he considers an employee to stay for this important dinner. Eventually, Grant concedes because Kathy thinks of Beatriz as family and finally everyone sits down to eat. Beatriz is a healer in every sense of the word. Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) the real estate magnate is everything that’s wrong with this world. Three glasses of wine in and Beatriz refuses to let Doug exist another minute without acknowledging what he’s taken from the world in order to become a wildly successful businessman. Beatriz has come face to face with a man who represents everything she stands against. She knows she can’t miss this opportunity for confrontation. Beatriz at Dinner is the story of that confrontation.
Salma Hayek creates something of an enigma with Beatriz. Her portrayal is ethereal and nuanced. Granted, the larger-than-life characters in this story feel more satirical than true-to-life but that’s part of the fun. Hayek brings an elegant sadness to the screen which underpins the righteous nature of her character. She gives Beatriz depth through graceful and aggressive conflict. Hayek’s Beatriz is the best part of this movie. John Lithgow’s portrayal of the villainous Doug Strutt is the second best part. Lithgow delivers an overall despicable Doug Strutt. He’s exactly the rich bastard you love to hate. Nevertheless, there are moments when he’s talking privately with Beatriz that you want to like him. You can appreciate his candor and you might even catch yourself mirroring his smile. Lithgow is remarkable as Strutt and these two performances are enough reason to give this movie a shot.
Beatriz at Dinner plays out like an awful recurring nightmare. You know what I’m talking about. Like when you dream of showing up to a meeting with no pants on or dream of your teeth falling out. At first, the storytelling felt a little too overt, oafish even. After a while though, the satire started to sink in. Miguel Arteta (Director) goes out of his way to make you squirm in your seat as you watch these characters interact. In the end, the heavy-handed storytelling made for a gloriously uncomfortable atmosphere. It’s all contradictory in nature and I suppose that’s sort of the point.
I was invested in this movie right up to the end and then Arteta threw one hell of a curve ball at me. I'm still not sure what to do with what I just saw since what happens feels so out of character for Beatriz. Look, I’m usually pretty down for a an ambiguous ending, but dammit man. The story makes a hard left and you're kind of left hanging, confused and alone. I realize that sounds rather negative but I still think you should give this one a go. Ultimately, Beatriz at Dinner is the good kind of satire. Just don’t expect any closure going in and you’ll be all right.
Beatriz at Dinner - B-
B- = You should check it out, but like, no rush.