Beatriz at Dinner offers intriguing social commentary as a healer takes on a business mogul at dinner and throughout the evening.
Directed by Miguel Arteta from a screenplay written by Mike White, the indie film stars Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, Chloë Sevigny, David Warshofsky, and John Early.
Beatriz (Hayek) is invited to her client’s dinner party at her Newport Beach mansion when her car breaks down. Beatriz is so intent to turn down the invite but her client, Cathy (Britton), insists that she stay and even talks it over with her husband, Grant (Warshofsky). Beatriz is sitting there like she’s the lone duck. She’s a holistic healer and an immigrant from Mexico. She has no business eating with these people, let alone hanging out with them as they celebrate a new business development.
On the other hand, you have Doug Strutt (Lithgow), a billionaire real-estate developer who is looking forward to breaking ground on his newest property. He couldn’t have done it without Alex (Duplass).
The topics addresses throughout the evening touch on social issues, including economic inequality, environmental conservation, and just simply being kind to other humans. All the while, Beatriz is growing increasingly uncomfortable and she lets her feelings be known. I’m sure Kathy meant well when she insisted that Beatriz join them for dinner but it turns out to be a huge mistake in the making. It’s when Doug starts bragging about killing animals in which Beatriz just lets it all out.
The one thing I didn’t understand is the ending. We see Beatriz walk into the water and never to be seen again but the very next scene shows her on the boat. I assume the latter is a flashback to when she was leaving Mexico.
Largely inspired by outrage that followed the killing of Cecil the lion by a hunter in Zimbabwe, screenwriter Mike White, a vegan and animal rights supporter, decided to base a screenplay around the concept of what he would do if he ever met the guy.
“They stand for ‘winners’ vs. ‘losers’ if you will,” White says of Doug and Beatriz. “The rich vs. the poor, hunters vs. healers, male vs. female. I put two people with opposite beliefs in conflict in a very relatable and everyday type of situation — a dinner party. It begins as a comedy of manners and turns quickly into a battle of ideas with a great deal at stake.”
An official selection of the 2017 Sundance Film festival, Roadside Attractions opened Beatriz at Dinner in theaters on June 9, 2017.