Beatriz at Dinner

First Hit: At times funny, but more of a sad and depressing drama to me and I’m not sure why the producers only tagged this as a comedy.

This film started interestingly for me for a couple of reasons. One, the locations where this is filmed are very familiar. Santa Monica and Newport Beach, where most the film takes place, are places where I grew up. And two, I also think that there is truth to the energy healing that Beatriz (Salma Hayek) performs as her vocation.  At the cancer center in Santa Monica where she works, the patients believe she is critical to their healing.

One of her patients, Suzana (Natalia Abelleyra), gained strength and healing through the work Beatriz did. Suzana’s mother Cathy (Connie Britton) has invited Beatriz to Newport so that Beatriz can give her a massage prior to a business dinner she and her husband Grant (David Warshofsky) are giving for Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) his third wife Jeana (Amy Landecker) and Alex and Shannon (Jay Duplass and Chole Sevigny respectively).

They are at dinner to discuss a big land deal that will allow them make a lot of money although it appears that they already have enough money based on the home they are in and cars they drive.

After Beatriz gives Cathy a massage, she’s asked to stay for dinner, as a friend, because her car doesn’t start and she is stuck there for a while.

The comedy and drama really start when Beatriz starts to speak to this obviously conservative, money focused, and egocentric people. She tells them about when she was a little girl and when her father caught a white octopus and asked her to kill it by kicking it. When she reached down and touched it she felt the pain of the octopus and from then on she became aware that all humans and animals are connected.

Doug shares about his killing a rhino in Africa and passes around a phone picture that so upset Beatriz that she throws the phone across the room at Doug. The hosts, Cathy and Grant ask Beatriz to leave the room and home.

Before she does there is a sequence where she gives thought to murdering Doug, then the film goes even darker and more depressing.

Hayek was good and she was believable but the script and story was a letdown. I’m not sure the flashbacks of her on a river looking for her white goat or the other dream sequences served the film or story. Lithgow was excellent as an arrogant, self-absorbed, conservative, and egocentric guest. I bought his character fully. The rest of the cast was good and nothing stood out. Mike White wrote this screenplay and it seemed to be a bit too esoteric. As I said I don’t think the dream sequences worked and the ending was not called for. Miguel Arteta did well in directing the cast, but think he could have effectively cut some of the dream sequences and maybe asked to create additional effective scenes. It is almost like this film could have been a good 1 hour movie special.

Overall:  I was hopeful for this film, but it failed for many reasons.