Salma Hayek and John Lithgow star in a new movie called BEATRIZ AT DINNER, a thought provoking drama that centers on a confrontation at a dinner party between a Mexican American massage therapist and a rich Caucasian real estate developer who may remind you of Donald Trump. Salma Hayek and John Lithgow are superb at playing these two polar opposites, and the movie does a great job of making their conflict feel real.
Rich man’s wife: Thank you so much for coming up during rush hour. What happened?
Beatrix: My car isn’t working.
Wife: Did you call Triple A.
Beatrix: I called a friend. He has to finish work.
Wife: You can just stay for dinner.
That’s how Salma Hayek as Beatriz winds up at a dinner party celebrating the latest triumph of billionaire Doug Strutt played by John Lithgow.
And right from the start of the evening, the outsider status of Beatrix is painfully obvious.
Doug: Can I get another bourbon, hon?
Host: Oh no, Doug, this is Beatriz. She’s staying for dinner.
Dough: Oh. You were hovering, so just figured you were part of the staff.
Things don’t go any better at dinner.
Beatriz: I would just like to thank Cathy and Grant for having me. When I first came to the United States a long time ago…
Doug: Did you come legally?
Doug’s wife: Oh this tenderloin was amazing.
Another wife: So was the fish, so buttery.
The entire ensemble is completely believable as privileged white people who, except for Doug, don’t want Beatriz to be uncomfortable.
And even the smug and arrogant Doug makes an insincere effort.
Beatriz: I always had inside me the desire to be a healer.
Doug: Good for you; you’re working; you’re contributing.
But when Doug shows off a photo on his phone of a rhinoceros he killed on safari, Beatriz can remain polite no longer.
Doug: I don’t consider it murder. It’s like this original dance of man and beast, the struggle for survival.
Beatriz: Are you for real? You killed this…..you think it’s funny. I think it’s sick…. You think killing is hard; try healing. You can break something in two seconds. It can take forever to fix it.
The only problem with BEATRIZ AT DINNER is the ending when the rug is pulled out from under the audience, not just once, but twice.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org