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Featured DVD Review: Beatriz at Dinner

September 11th, 2017

Beatriz at Dinner - Buy from Amazon: DVD
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Beatriz at Dinner

Beatriz at Dinner came out in limited release this past summer earning reviews that are good, but not great. Its box office results were very good for a limited release earning just over $7 million, but it never quite cracked the top ten. Does the film’s quality match this result? Is it good, but not great? Or did it deserve breakout success?

The Movie

This is going to be a short plot summary for two reasons. Firstly, the movie is barely over 80 minutes long, including credits. Secondly, it is a character driven, dialogue heavy drama, so outside of setting up the few main characters and why they are together, there’s not a lot of plot to sum up.

We first meet Beatriz early one morning as she’s trying to calm down her pets, including a baby goat. She drives off to work, she’s a massage therapist at a cancer clinic. Today, she also has an after work client, Kathy, who is preparing for a dinner party later that night. Beatriz met Kathy when Kathy’s daughter, Tara, was being treated for cancer and Beatriz helped Tara with her physiotherapy. Kathy asks how Beatriz doing, because she can tell Beatriz is feeling down. I won’t say why Beatriz is feeling down, because spoiling the dialogue in a dialogue-driven drama is like spoiling the jokes in a stand-up concert.

When Beatriz tries to leave, her care fails to start. She just wants to wait for her friend to come by and fix it, but Kathy insists on inviting her to dinner. Grant, Kathy’s husband, doesn’t want Beatriz there, because this is an important business dinner, Doug Strutts will be there, but he relents. The guests start to arrive, first Alex and Shannon then Doug and his wife, Jenna.

The dinner starts out awkward for Beatriz, and then it gets much worse.

Beatriz at Dinner is a social satire that looks at how different classes interact. It is a movie with a message, which can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, message movies have greater impact than films made just to entertain. They last with you longer. On the other hand, message movies have a lot more pitfalls they need to avoid, one of which is being heavy-handed. This movie is a little heavy-handed and that takes away from the overall impact. There’s no doubt where the filmmakers' allegiances are in this conflict between hard-working immigrant and pompous mega-wealthy real estate mogul.

That said, the movie has amazing performances, especially from Salma Hayek. I’ve seen some argue that this is her best performance ever, but she did earn an Oscar nomination for Frida, so I would say that’s overstating things a little. I don’t think she’s going to earn any Oscar nominations for this movie, but her performance is enough to recommend the movie. John Lithgow is equally strong as her main foil in the movie and he avoids tripping into caricature territory. The two combined are nearly enough to recommend purchasing the DVD.

However...

The Extras

There are absolutely no extras on the DVD. This is really disappointing. Had the DVD had a full selection of extras, then it could have been the Pick of the Week.

The Verdict

Beatriz at Dinner features some amazing performances from Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, and others. The writing is a little ham-fisted to reach its potential, but it is still worth checking out. The DVD has no extras, which really hurts its overall value. Even so, I would call it a solid rental, leaning towards a purchase.

Filed under: Video Review, Beatriz at Dinner, Connie Britton, Salma Hayek, Amy Landecker, John Lithgow, Chloe Sevigny, David Warshofsky, Jay Duplass
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