Until I saw Miguel Arteta‘s Beatriz At Dinner (Roadside / Film Nation, 6.9), I never realized how short Salma Hayek is. Look at her compared to her female costars in this trailer — she’s like a munchkin. I’m not saying this to be a dick, but to mention that her church-mouse proportions serve as a metaphor when Beatriz, a spiritual healer and massage therapist, has an unfortunate encounter with a group of Orange County synthetics. Poor Beatriz seems beaten from the start.
From 1.17 HE Sundance review: “Beatriz drives down to Newport Beach to give a massage to Cathy (Connie Britton), a rich client. But then Beatriz’s car dies, and so Cathy invites her to stay for the party. She first has to overcome the small-minded objections of her husband (David Warshofsky) because the dinner is basically about business deal with a rich, Donald Trump-like monster (John Lithgow). Also attending are Strutts’ wife (Amy Landecker) and are a smarmy Orange Country couple (Chloe Sevigny, Jay Duplass).
“But then Beatriz starts blowing it by ignoring the conservational flow and trying to pass along a moral or spiritual lesson whenever there’s a lull. Then she starts to drink too much wine. Then she throws a cell phone at Strutt over his disdain for society’s lessers. Then she insists on playing a song on her guitar. And then she begins to wonder if she might have a moral duty to stab Strutt in the neck. Then she has some more wine.
“In short, Beatriz is a social calamity. And then it gets worse. By the finale the film seems to be saying ‘say a prayer for the spiritually pure of heart, for they’re always weak and defeatist when they look into the face of the devil.’
“So I’m sorry but I didn’t like Beatriz at Dinner. Neither did a woman I spoke to her after the screening. If the ghost of Irving Thalberg had somehow been involved he would’ve made screenwriter Mike White re-write the ending before filming started. I felt slightly cheated and a bit angry. Arteta and White had a great concept, but that’s where it stayed.”