Miguel Arteta’s “Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling but the mark of a very good film is one that will prompt people to debate, to talk and possibly to learn from. Is it a great film, no it’s not. But it’s a film that will no doubt resonate for each person who watches it, may it be positive or negative.
© 2017 Brown Amy LLC. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Beatriz at Dinner
YEAR OF FILM: 2017
DURATION: 83 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
RATED: R (Language and a Scene of Violence)
COMPANY: Lions Gate
AVAILABLE ON: September 12, 2017
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Written by Mike White
Produced by Aaron L. Gilbert, David Hinojosa, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon
Co-Produced: Fiona Walsh Heinz, William B. Macomber
Executive Producer: Jason Cloth, Brad Feinstein, Lewis Hendler, Richard McConnell, Andrew Pollack, Alan Simpson, Jose Tamez Co-Executive
Music by Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography by Wyatt Garfield
Edited by Jay Deuby
Casting by Joanna Colbert, Meredith Tucker
Production Design by Ashley Fenton
Set Decoration: Madelaine Frezza
Costume Design: Christina Blackalier
Salma Hayek as Beatriz
John Lithgow as Doug
Connie Britton as Kathy
Jay Duplass as Alex
Amy Landecker as Jeana
Chloe Sevigny as Shannon
David Warshofsky as Grant
John Early as Evan
Beatriz (Salma Hayek), an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a spiritual health practitioner in Los Angeles. Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) is a cutthroat, self-satisfied billionaire real estate developer. When these two opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.
With all the political turmoil that currently exists in the world, especially in America, filmmaker Miguel Arteta (“Youth in Revolt”, “The Good Girl”, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”) and writer Mike White (“School of Rock”, “Nacho Libre”, “The Good Girl”, “Orange County”) reunite for another film that takes on today’s hot topic in regards to the clashing of cultures but also a clash between rich and poor.
The film stars Salma Hayek (“Frida”, “Desperado”, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”), John Lithgow (“Interstellar”, “3rd Rock from the Sun”, “Cliffhanger”), Connie Britton (“Nashville”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Spin City”), Jay Duplass (“Transparent”, “Togetherness”, “Cyrus”), Amy Landecker (“Doctor Strange”, “Project Almanac”, “Transparent”), Chloe Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry”, “Big Love”, “Love & Friendship”) and David Warshofsky (“Taken”, “Captain Phillips”, “Now You See Me”).
And now the film will be released on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.
The film begins with a woman named Beatriz (portrayed by Salma Hayek) having a dream of riding in a boat and paddling in the waters and seeing a white goat. She awakens when a brown goat in her bedroom starts making a lot of noise. As Beatriz tries to quite down her two dogs and the goat, she leaves for her job to a massage therapy center.
Beatriz leaves her job to tend to a client, Kathy (portrayed by Connie Britton)who lives in a wealthy, gated home. As Beatriz massages Kathy, Beatriz tells Kathy of how her neighbor had killed one of her goats and becomes emotional when discussing it.
As she is done with her client and is about to head out home, her car doesn’t start. She tells Kathy that she is unable to leave the driveway as her car is not working but her friend will be picking her up after he is done with work.
Kathy invites Beatriz to join them for dinner and while her husband, Grant (portrayed by David Warshofsky) is against it, because real estate developer Doug Strutt (portrayed by John Lithgow) would be arriving and it’s an important dinner, he eventually decides to allow Beatriz to join them for dinner.
Immediately, Beatriz tries to fit in by trying to make conversation with lawyer Alex (portrayed by Jay Duplass) and Shannon (portrayed by Chloe Sevigny), Doug and his wife Jeanna (portrayed by Amy Landecker). And as Beatriz introduces herself and how she knows Kathy and what she does, the two don’t have much of an interest talking to her.
And as these three couples are celebrating their latest project and Kathy introduces the ladies to Beatriz as a healer and they start talking mean about a female celebrity, which the women get into but Beatriz is wondering why these women would talk so mean about a person they don’t know.
As she goes to visit Grant, Doug and Alex, Doug mistakes her as a servant but Grant explains that she is a guest. As she talks about where she came from, Doug makes jokes which leads to Beatriz to say that she has seen him before.
We then see the three women looking at photos and they see Kathy and Doug’s daughter who had cancer and her daughter standing alongside Beatriz.
Kathy then tells the other women about Beatriz’ challenges of being separated by her family as a child, leaving her hometown and being raised by her grandmother in the United States but also losing her husband.
As the group gather to dinner, they all have conversation about their successful project, which Beatriz then interrupts and talks about coming from Mexico and Doug asks if she came legally.
She explains that her hometown in Mexico was destroyed by a failed hotel and she asks if Doug was the developer. He denies it.
As Beatrix leaves and makes a call, she calls up a friend and asks if Doug Strutt was the developer that they protested against.
As the group goes into the dining room, Doug talks about hunting and the excitement of hunting and killing a wild animal and shares photos of him killing a rhinoceros on his last safari. This sets off Beatriz who tells everyone it’s disgusting and she throws his phone.
Everyone is shocked at Beatriz’ behavior and it leads to an awkward evening between Beatriz and the home she is temporarily staying at.
And Beatriz contemplating if it’s fate that she’s at the house and perhaps she is destined to get revenge by killing Doug. Will she do it? What will happen throughout the evening?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Beatriz at Dinner” is presented in 1:85:1 and is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD. . Closeups show good detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and for the most part, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film. The soundtrack is primarily dialogue driven
Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.
“Beatriz at Dinner” comes with a trailer.
“Beatriz at Dinner” comes with a slipcover.
“Beatriz at Dinner” is a provocative film that will no doubt get people talking.
Beatriz who represents the poor who came from Mexico and living in the United States and works a healer is an animal lover, cares about the land and willing to stand up for it. She is spiritual, caring and a very good person.
But poor Beatriz, her car breaks down at a wealthy client’s home and while she is invited to the party, these wealthy people surely don’t want Beatriz around.
It’s immediately evident as Beatriz tries to fit in. First the women, as they discuss a female celebrity in a mean-spirited way and talks about the celebrity’s vagina and photos online which leads Beatriz to leave and tries to talk with the men.
Developer Doug thinks Beatriz is a servant and asks her to get him more alcohol, a wealthy land developer which Beatriz believes may be the person that forced her and people from her village out of their area in Mexico to build a hotel.
And to cap things off, when Doug starts talking about his hunt from his last Safari trip, this immediately sends Beatriz off the edge and she starts to think, what if she was destined to be at this party for one reason. And that reason was to kill a man responsible for hurting the land, hurting living things.
Miguel Arteta and Mike White have no doubted crafted a film that touches on hot topics that we have seen in the news these past few years.
For me, I can see both sides because I grew up in an area of California where the population is mostly Mexican and I have had numerous Mexican friends, especially those with Native American ancestry, who come from families who are very spiritual people and feel strongly about the land, respecting the living animal that they must kill for food.
And also, I also come from an area where there are many hunters (not all Caucasian) and I have many friends who are hunters. And I also have friends who are wealthy and those who are lawyers and real estate developers.
A number of them are two opposite ends in terms of perspective and livelihood and I knew that if you were to put them in a household together to discuss these hot topics, each would be strong with their beliefs and conviction that either side won’t back down.
This is the fracture of American society that is more evident more than ever thanks to social media. One posts a photo of killing a deer or wildlife, despite it being legal, there are numerous people who will be passionate to show their distaste over the photo or video posted and as we have seen in news reports, a lot of the time, they receive death threats.
As for the destruction of land, this is an ongoing hot topic that has existed globally. From the chopping of trees, especially the effects of deforestation and saw its effects on Easter Island and we are seeing it going on in the rain forests of other countries. We have seen people forced to leave their lands and even going to inner city where gentrification is forcing lower income households to move.
There are passionate debates on both ends and there probably will not be any decorum, especially in a world where people feel that the haves do not have any compassion for the have nots.
“Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling because for me watching this film, I knew that it would be an awkward situations. Beatriz is compassionate about people, about animals and about life. And when she is in the presence of people who celebrate over the killing of life, the development of land for business and forcing people to move, you see a ticking time bomb that is about to detonate.
You just wonder how far Beatriz will go.
The film features a wonderful performance by Salma Hayek and it’s no doubt the most unsettling and provocative film I have seen her star in. Also, a film where she’s not glamoured up, she is able to portray a character that represents many people who feel they have no voice in today’s society.
As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect. But it’s pretty much a barebones DVD with no special features but a theatrical trailer.
Overall, Miguel Arteta’s “Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling but the mark of a very good film is one that will prompt people to debate, to talk and possibly to learn from. Is it a great film, no it’s not. But it’s a film that will no doubt resonate for each person who watches it, may it be positive or negative.