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Beatriz at Dinner

The problem with politics of today is that both sides of the spectrum see everything as black and white, there is hardly any middle ground left. Unfortunately, this can be seen transferring onto the film screen with political commentary movies.

Beatriz at Dinner is meant to be a provoking piece on the clash of two cultures and ideologies. Our protagonist is Beatriz (Salma Hayek) who is a spiritual healer/masseuse who really believes in her job and its mystical aspects. When attending a wealthy client (Connie Britton) at her house, Beatriz’s car breaks down. Out of courtesy she is invited to stay for dinner, her client is having a dinner party. One of the dinner guests is a hotel mogul (John Lithgow) whose racism and brashness clashes with Beatriz’s goodness and purity.

This film couldn’t have come out at a better time, with the xenophobic feeling rising in countries all around the West. I was anticipating this film highly, wanting to see how the filmmakers presented both sides of the argument and then went about resolving the disputes. But unfortunately, Beatriz at Dinner is more of a snapshot of what our social climate is like today, rather than an analysis or exploration of ‘how’ and ‘why’.

In fact the entire movie does seem to only want to scratch the surface, timidly stepping away from much controversy and playing a safe politically liberal approach; choosing to go for poetic shots instead of squirming confrontations. In fact the whole film seems to approach everything as too black and white, so that all of the characters end up being simply caricatures.

Director Miguel Arteta was able to wrangle up a good cast however, and they give more depth to their characters than the script ever did. The likes of John Lithgow and Connie Britton shine, but it’s Hayek’s performance reaches for what the film was missing: subtlety. Hayek perfectly embodies the awkwardness between her and the other characters, whether it’s standing back feeling left out, or else being provoked and defending herself.

However, the message of the film ends up being: this is where we are now; and you’re left feeling a bit betrayed. In this incredibly complex subject, showing people what is happening and shying away from explaining it, is simply not enough.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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