Beatriz at Dinner Screen 71 of 13 reviews

Beatriz at Dinner

2017

Beatriz at Dinner Poster
  • A darkly comic fantasy about an empathetic, nature-loving Latina healer who comes face to face with a racist, vulgar, thoroughly despicable member of the 1%. I say “fantasy” not because it couldn’t happen, but because the movie is predicated on the rare thrill of seeing an all-too-human monster being made to answer for his crimes, if only for the duration of one surreal and savagely funny evening.

  • Miguel Arteta and Mike White seem unlikely candidates to produce this generation’s Rules of the Game, but, as the Trump administration proves almost every day, anything is possible... Beatriz at Dinner is profoundly sad. The film offers no answers because it has none: it affirms that we do not live in a world where Doug’s kind can be properly redressed, because they are insulated by money and power. What begins as a cry of anger swells to a sob.

  • Salma Hayek is the star and radiant center of “Beatriz at Dinner,” Miguel Arteta’s scathing, at times scathingly funny comedy... Written by Mike White, the movie touches on some of the same themes that informed his film “Year of the Dog” and his regrettably canceled HBO series “Enlightened,” namely the comedy and sometimes tragedy of living and doing good in an often aggressively hostile, dangerous world.

  • Arteta directs with irreverent brio mixed with a somber touch, but Beatriz at Dinner is (almost) all talk, and dependent on the crisply funny dialogue that keeps taking left turns into the unexpected. White is always on the side of the marginal and the dispossessed, but he likes to throw us off our game a bit so we don't just go home smugly confident that we've done our bit for justice and empathy. Beatriz, like the others, walks a purposefully confounding line between naturalism and caricature.

  • A film often smartly attuned to language, Beatriz at Dinner — a sober comedy about class clash and soft-to-hard racism directed by Miguel Arteta and written by Mike White — operates in several different idioms. English and Spanish (sometimes unsubtitled) are spoken; the lexicons of healing and affluence specific to Southern California are just as often dissonant with each other as they are consonant.

  • Arteta’s direction, Mike White’s script, Hayek’s performance, and Wyatt Garfield’s cinematography, which punctuates the ugliness that money can buy with magic-realist images of the natural world, make Beatriz at Dinner out of the ordinary and spot-on.

  • This might be the best performance Salma Hayek has ever given, her quiet, observant reserve eventually giving way to bewilderment and resolve. And her inner turmoil is a powerfully relevant one: How does a person committed to healing — to being principled, empathetic, and good — handle first contact with the devils who think nothing of destroying our world?

  • The funniest film I've seen at Sundance thus far... The conversations flow with such rhythmic grace, each line, cut and reaction shot just so perfectly in sync, grounded by the placid, “healing” center that is Beatriz. Perhaps even more impressive is that it manages to satirize without contempt, to criticize without condescension—a testament to the able cast and a stellar script by Mike White (who pens Enlightened).

  • Hayek brings depth and feeling to the title character... White (The School of Rock, Year of the Dog) aims for social satire but doesn't have much to say about the erosion of kindness in the Trump era; he seems to think that planting a character like Beatriz in front of a stand-in for the president is enough.

  • Unfortunately Hayek's vibrance as an actor is tamped down here. She seems restricted by the sanctimoniousness of the role. The script is by Mike White, who has also written two of Arteta's previous films, Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl. The story's aims are noble, but it works too hard at scoring its points to succeed as either entertainment or lacerating social commentary. The picture needed to bite harder and deeper. It circles its prey nobly but stops short of moving in for the kill.

  • Its small pleasures lie in the way it sidesteps cheap caricature. The movie, which marks the belated reunion of director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter Mike White, who previously collaborated on Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl, insists on letting its characters behave like, well, characters. And that’s what makes it frustrating in retrospect, as it blows some of the most astute writing that White has done for film on a flimsy and miscalculated finale.

  • White and Arteta are among a small number of artists producing mainstream entertainment that hums with unbridled fury at the damage corporate greed has wrought upon the very fabric of our planet, and that audacity remains thrilling. But despite its gestures toward nuance, the very broadness of the dichotomies in Beatriz at Dinner prove to be its undoing.

  • Although this may contain the best performance of Hayek’s career, and an act of violence in the third act will be deliciously appealing to the basest instincts of every angry liberal at this particular post-inauguration moment, it’s still a flawed work, too broad and scattershot to skewer its deserving targets with the precision necessary for the task.

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