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Beatriz at Dinner (Sundance London 2017 Review)


Beatriz at Dinner, directed by Miguel Arteta from a screenplay by Mike White, is a painfully unfunny and dull film with obnoxiously paper-thin social commentary.

Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a massage therapist who due to unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, ends up being a guest at the dinner party of her wealthy clients Cathy (Connie Britton) and Grant (David Warshofsky). There, she encounters Doug Strutt (John Lithgow), a racist, greedy, rich old white guy.

If spending about 90 minutes at a dinner party full of horrible rich white people stereotypes sounds like your idea of a good time, Beatriz at Dinner is the movie for you. The movie probably thinks it’s providing some kind of nuanced social commentary, but all of the characters are so broadly drawn they might as well have been cardboard cutouts plucked straight from the nightmares you have about comments on the internet.

Doug Strutt is such a textbook white corporate asshole that he doesn’t even resemble a character, let alone a human being. Like all of the obnoxiously, elitist pricks at the dinner party, he is a straw man. There is no nuance, no subtlety and no depth to the way this movie portrays anything – and it’s so boring. It’s a one-sided conversation and it’s not really good at being that either.

Beatriz, the Mexican immigrant/healer/animal lover with a spiritual side, is so kind and wholesome and nurturing that it just makes you want to throw up. She’s there to be outraged and disgusted on the viewer’s behalf, so the viewer might as well save some time and not even bother watching. Beatriz at Dinner might mean well, but it’s far too preachy and bland to bring anything new to this conversation, let alone leave any kind of lasting impression.

The only thing that could have salvaged this waste of an hour and a half is if it ended with Beatriz snapping and killing everyone at the party in a gruesomely comedic way. Instead, Beatriz at Dinner has the nerve to have a fake out ending that suggests things are about to get interesting, only for the real dull, lifeless ending to trudge along instead.

The movie’s biggest achievement is making its relatively short runtime feel like the length of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy – the extended cut. It’s the kind of a movie that thinks comparing rich white people to literal cancer is something really profound that no one’s ever thought of doing before now. It starts off dull and gleefully devolves into straight up unwatchable.

Avoid at all costs.

Rating
1.0
Pros
  • None
Cons
  • Dull and unfunny
  • Paper-thin, straw man characters
  • Bland, uninspired social commentary

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