24 June 2017 | paul-allaer
Ensemble piece led by Salma Hayek feels like a missed opportunity
As "Beatriz at Dinner" (2017 release; 80 min.) opens, we see Beatriz at home with her pets (a goat, a dog and a cat), trying to keep them as quiet as possible. Beatriz then is off to work: she is a healer at an alternative medicine clinic, and later on she is off to Kathy, a wealthy client in Newport Beach, to give a massage. AS luck would have it, Beatriz's car won't start and it will be hours before her friend can come help her. Kathy graciously invites Beatriz to stay over and join a dinner party Kathy and her husband are hosting for two other couples, among them a billionaire real estate developer. At this point we're a good 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the third time that director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White have teamed up, after the excellent "Chuck & Buck (in 2000) and "The Good Girl" (in 2002). Here they decide to go a very different rout, and serve up a social commentary on life of the rich and famous. Beatriz, a down to earth alternative medicine healer of Mexican descent, stands out like a sore thumb in a small gathering of white rich business men and their spouses, and hence tension ensues. I'm sure that there are people in real life like the John Lithgow character, a rude, self-absorbed, insensitive, sexist and racist pig, but if the movie makers think that this is a representative reflection of rich, white males, then I disagree. I had seen the trailer for the movie, and was expecting something amazing. Instead, what we have here is a movie which has an interesting premise, and doesn't know how to flesh it out, and then simply runs out of steam (and plot) after a mere 1 hr. and 15 min. Sorry, that doesn't cut it for me. This movie feels like a missed opportunity. Salma Hayek (in the role of Beatriz) makes the best of the situation, but that's not saying much.
The movie opened this weekend on 2 screens for all of Greater Cincinnati. The Saturday matinée where I saw this at was attended poorly (3 people, including myself). Now having seen the film, I don't see a long life for this movie in the theaters: it's too dark, and too obvious, but worst of all, the movie is not fully fleshed out.