Posts Tagged ‘Jay Duplass’

Transactional Dynamics

Beatriz at Dinner

Director: Miguel Arteta

Cast: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass, Chloe Sevigny, Amy Landecker, David Warshofsky

Puerto Rican director Miguel Arteta directs Oscar nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) in an insightful comedy of manners Beatriz at Dinner which also stars Connie Britton, Chloe Sevigny and John Lithgow.

It is so refreshing to see Salma Hayek take on a more unconventional role in an arthouse film which had its premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

Beatriz is a struggling massage therapist, a Mexican immigrant to a California who also works at a Cancer centre in Santa Monica. Beatriz loves animals and is deeply distressed when her goat dies, supposedly killed by a neighbour. After spending most of the day at the Cancer centre she has one last appointment: at the home of a wealthy woman Kathy’s whose plush and spacious residence in a gated community overlooking the Pacific in Newport Beach, California, which proves to be Beatriz’s emotional untangling.

Connie Britton from the hit TV show Nashville plays sickly sweet Kathy who initially treats Beatriz as one of her special paid friends even though she is essentially her Mexican massage therapist.

Things go haywire when Beatriz’s old car fades on her and she is left stranded at this gorgeous home where Kathy insists she must stay for a very glamorous dinner party. Caterers have been brought in, the Mexican maid is ready to answer the door and the well-heeled guests include ruthless property developer Doug Strutt wonderfully played with that obnoxious temperament by Oscar nominee John Lithgow (Terms of Endearment).

Among the other guests are Alex played by Jay Duplass and his fabulous wife Shannon played with the cool American chic by Oscar nominee Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry).

Kathy’s husband Grant is hosting Doug Strutt to celebrate the ground breaking of a massive property development. As the evening progresses, Beatriz, a cat among the pigeons, sets everyone’s affluent artificiality on edge when she begins questioning their extravagant lifestyles and dubious moral choices.

The scenes between Salma Hayek and John Lithgow are particularly illuminating and form the backbone of a razor sharp film about class and socio-political transactional dynamics. About them and us.

About Beatriz realizing that in corporate America, ruled by a Trump presidency, there exists ruthless businessmen who will stop at nothing to obtain obscene wealth despite the environmental impact of building commercial resorts and hotels in poverty-stricken paradises like Guatemala and parts of Mexico, which have absolutely no benefit to the indigenous communities.

Salma Hayek is sensational in Beatriz at Dinner a return to her dazzling ability to portray eccentric characters like she did as the title role of Frida, director Julie Taymor’s colourful film about the acclaimed Mexican artist and revolutionary Frida Kahlo. Salma Hayek definitely needs to make more arthouse films whereby her unique acting abilities can really shine through.

Beatriz at Dinner is a wonderfully poignant film, a gentle reminder that when seated at a dinner table everyone’s true identity is revealed especially after a three course meal coupled with several glasses of Californian chardonnay.

Despite the contrived plot device of a broken down car, Beatriz at Dinner is an insightful portrayal of contemporary America and receives a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.



Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
March 2018
« Feb    
  • SXSW Film Review: ‘Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’
    In the ’60s and (especially) the ’70s, it became a cliché to say “sex sells.” But the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were one of the prime examples of how sex didn’t just sell luxury cars or shampoo or entertainment — it sold itself. “Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” […]
    Owen Gleiberman
  • Film Review: ‘Pyewacket’
    Intriguing Canadian horror pic “Pyewacket” is sort of “Lady Bird” in extremis: Its heroine is a teen caught in an antagonistic relationship with her single mum who becomes so unhappy that she casts an occult spell, to everyone’s eventual grief. A sinister mix of dysfunctional-adolescent drama and horror-movie elements, Adam MacDonald’s sophomore feature is perhaps […]
  • Film Review: ‘Back to Burgundy’
    When I was 13 years old, my great-aunt arranged for me to visit a vineyard in France’s Loire valley, where I was allowed to spend an afternoon planting grape vines with the family who had worked those fields for centuries. Together, we visited the facilities where the harvest was crushed and fermented, and tasted the […]
    Peter Debruge
  • Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy Megadeals Left Producers Money Hungry, TV Execs Say
    Recent nine-figure overall deals Netflix lavished on TV titans Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy have left producers dreaming of big paydays, according to execs assembled Friday at a UCLA media-biz conference. There is another ‘Me Too’ movement,” quipped Sandra Stern, president of Lionsgate TV Group, “which is all of these creators who are saying, ‘why […]
    Andrew Wallenstein
  • ‘Jane the Virgin’ Finds the Comedy in Tragedy, and Vice Versa
    Spoiler alert: Do not read this unless you have seen “Chapter Seventy-Eight,” the March 23 episode of the CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” As I watched the opening scenes of this week’s “Jane the Virgin,” a few questions percolated in my mind. On a day on which I felt extremely nerve-wracked about the state of the world […]
    Maureen Ryan