This week BUFS is pleased to present, “Beatriz at Dinner’ a comedy drama directed by Miguel Aretta.
Written and created in advance of the 2016 presidential election as a commentary on “Trump-era America.” The film took on a whole new set of meanings in the wake of Donald J. Trump’s victory, especially with regard to the ensuing debates over immigration.
The film stars Salma Hayek (Beatriz) and John Lithgow (Doug Strutt), two dinner guests from two very different backgrounds who are locked in a battle of wills, and features winning supporting performances from Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, Nashville), Chloë Sevigny, and others.
Beatriz is an immigrant from Mexico and works as a holistic healing practitioner. She uses massage, Reiki, and many other alternative therapies to help her clients. She is an empathetic, caring person who is very principled and moral. One of her clients is Kathy (Connie Britton), whom Beatriz treats at Kathy’s lavish home in Southern California.
When Beatriz’ car breaks down on the way out of Kathy’s house, Kathy invites her to join the dinner party that her and her husband Grant (David Warshofsky) are hosting that evening. The guest of honor at the party is Grants billionaire developer boss Doug Strutt.
During the dinner Beatriz naively thinks that her inputs matter but as the night proceeds she quickly gets the sense that she has entered a world that people like her are not normally privy to. This becomes more obvious as she is mistaken for the help and later asked if she entered the United States legally. The dinner quickly becomes contentious as Doug begins to arrogantly talk about bypassing regulations, taking advantage of workers wages, and displacing people from their villages for development purposes. This triggers Beatriz’ own memories of a hotel that people in her town in Mexico protested against. To her hosts mortified disbelief, Beatriz begins to question Doug about it. Doug later goes on to boast about killing game in Africa. This is the last straw for Beatriz and her inner turmoil unleashes. How does a caring person committed to doing good and healing people and animals handle a group of sociopaths who are only committed to power and money? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
Impressive cinematography coupled with an amazing cast, and a very timely plot explains why this film was one of the most talked about films at Sundance. Beatriz’ head-to-head battle against Strutt is definitely worth the watch even if, in real life, we are still waiting to see how this battle plays out.
Beatriz at Dinner screens Wednesday at 7 P.M. at Landmark Theatres, Pen Centre. Visit www.brocku.ca/bufs for details.