Release Date: June 9th, 2017
Cast
: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker
Director: Miguel Arteta
Studio: Killer Films, Bron Studios
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Genre:  ‘Comedy’

Rating:
Review Spoilers:  High

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Beatriz at Dinner has been called ‘the first great film of the Trump era.’ But what does that mean? Does that make it a good movie? Let’s get into it.

Starring Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, and Connie Britton, Beatriz at Dinner tells the story of massage therapist Beatriz and her interactions with the friends and family of a client at dinner. Specifically, the butting of heads and ideologies between herself and the family’s business partner played by John Lithgow, a real estate mogul with no regard for the ramifications of his pursuits. 

It’s easy to see the parallel, Lithgow’s character represents the Trumps of the world, rich, older, white male leaders of industry. He is the business partner of the family as they plan to break ground on a new development.  Meanwhile, Beatriz is the calm collection of different beliefs, all tied to a deeper love of fellow people. She’s a Buddhist, raises goats, practices New Age type medicine, as well as a massage therapist. Clearly, they are from different worlds.

The movie follows the course of the dinner, as Beatriz listens in on conversation, attempting to reach out and make honest connections while all the guests proceed to humor her, outright ignore her, or confuse her for the help. When the other characters show disregard for their actions, for the poor, or the animals who are affected by their actions, Beatriz attempts to put her perspective in but gains no footing. And so the movie goes, frustrating as Beatriz dreams of returning home, but being stuck in the world of this family and their business partners.

The movie is very good, for the first two-thirds. The relationship between the characters, the conversations, everything is feels true. There is dark comedy, but you recognize the moments of awfulness the characters absent-mindedly, off-handedly perform.

The final act however, the real climactic gesture and final action don’t seem to follow the philosophy presented up to this point. During several moments throughout the film, Beatriz reaches out and seems to almost break through to the other characters, in telling stories of her life, in singing a song in Spanish from her past. Each time these moments occur they seem to reach further and further into the hearts of the others. But it never does.

Instead, there is a murder, a shocking violent act that goes against everything Beatriz seems to be. Thankfully (?), it is revealed to be a daydream and instead Beatriz leaves the dinner, and in a strange turn swims out into the ocean.

If this movie is the first great film of the Trump Era, and it certainly feels as it was made as a reaction to his presidency, what is the message of it? To try a few times to affect change and then to give up? The movie’s philosophy for the great deal of it seems to be that the connection between people can affect great change, spiritual or otherwise. And yet, the protagonist, the movie gives up.  

A bleak ending, or a defeated ending can be impactful, and it does sure say a lot about the feelings of people in this time, but it feels as if it is in conflict with that core belief of the rest of the movie.

28 thoughts on “‘Beatriz at Dinner’ Has a Clashing Point of View and Ending”

  1. Totally agree. Her suicide went against her core values and so, didn’t ring true. What of the dogs and goat she left behind, since the dead goat was referred to so often? Disappointing.

    1. I think when she saw herself wanting to kill him she realized that she had broken her core values, perhaps his brand of poison had invaded her, and no longer wanted to live in this world, but return to the one she had envisioned so often.

      1. Hey, thanks for taking the time to comment!
        The idea of his poison having gotten through to her makes a lot of sense. I think that is a defeated feeling that rings true for a lot of people right now.

    2. I don’t think she committed suicide. After leaving that house and realizing how much she wanted to kill him, she felt sick at heart. She NEEDED to walk into the ocean and cleanse the sickness out of her body and mind. The wind and the waves can do that. She was compelled to do it – that’s why she tells the driver to pull over suddenly and jumps out. I can imagine doing the same thing in her place.

  2. I would disagree. She is human. She had great deep emotions. She was extremely passionate. She was going nowhere with these people, so her depression on b the state of the world and human (and animal) suffering overwhelmed her and she acted out as one would. Some people cut, some people get tattoos, everyone expresses themselves, or rather numb themselves to cope. But she walked into the ocean. The movie highlights her mundane life. She has a simple life. Her goat was killed. There was a person she kept calling who never called her back, she kept saying how much she loves them. She was depressed. Also…we don’t know that she necessarily died.

    1. Good point on the phone calls! I had forgotten about their regularity. You’re absolutely right we don’t know that she died. Maybe it was a spiritual rebirth for her to go into the waves.

  3. This review is from a Carnal Mind in a cage view point. No ability to watch something without putting it into a Brain Washed context, like you are in MIND CONTROL, seeing the world through your lens of limitations. Why bother going to the movie, your mind is so Preconditioned, you cant even see the forest for the tress/ Your carnal mind has destroyed you, CODY. Your views are useless INFO.

  4. I was angry that once again the person of color had to die in order to make a point about something. And she conveniently took herself out saving the white people from the trouble of dealing with her truths.

    1. I believe you mean ethnicity. I am Hispanic, have the same color of skin as Selma but refer to my race as white on paper since hispanics come from European decent; a combination of Native American Indians and europeans known as mestizo or also mixed with european and blacks referred to as mulatos.

      I think this movie has much deeper meaning. Although to those not understanding her complexity can view suicide as convincent and cowardly, killing oneself is anything but that.

      I also don’t think she makes a point at the end like she does throughout the movie sharing her beliefs. At least not in the last scene. I think the last scene has more to do with her SELF rather than with the wealthy family and their friends.

      Reading one of the commentaries clarified to me that the ending with her rising above the water in the mangroves is actually the repetitive day dreaming scenes that are in bright, vivid colors – a heavenly like state with her white goat and a young Beatriz. Which if you agree with the commentary’s statement, seems to say that she daydreams about escaping or leaving this world for the other. The other daydreams of her actual finding her goat dead in the backyard are dark and grim like and her reality and life. Even though she is positive in her views, she is constantly surrounded by illness, pain and stress as she tries to help her clients.

      Therefore, my interpretation is that the reality of her life is dark, grim, lonely, depressing, a constant battle between beliefs, moral values and the animal species (includes humans). She has a very deep connection life and wanting to heal others and receiving some form of satisfaction through that process. So when she is in a social gathering that she is not familiar with, she observes, observes and observes. She realizes there are “different” cancers and that the external ones she tries to heal or affect seem to almost be easier to address than those who seem to have an ill core belief. She almost feels beaten, like there is more sickness of the likes her hands and words can’t influence; and here is where I am torn. Is she saying I’ve done all that I can do for others? Is she saying I’m going home for self preservation (the last scene)? The self being the mind, the soul, the energy. Or is she coming back since she believes in reincarnation? Death to her is not the means to an end I think, but rather a bridge.

      1. Maybe I’m too literal minded, but I saw the end of this movie as yet another cliched ‘colored person dies to teach a profound lesson to white people’ comforting (to white people) narrative. I don’t know how Salma Hayek defines her race but in the film she was an outsider. I heard an interview on NPR with the script writer. He’s now making a movie starring Ben Stiller (son of actors) about a rich man who envies his richer friends. Maybe he’s there to give voice to First World pain but it doesn’t reach me.

        1. I completely understand. I think there is just so much symbolism, including yours. When I watched it last night, I kept wondering, is she going to wash up near their home and be impacted changing their lives because of her death or find out later and be affected in a life changing moment. But then everything was beautiful and she was in the mangroves again.

          The movie is so impactful that I wanted to make sure I understood its purpose. The ending is ambiguous. It does, talk about historical events (the killing of the famous lion in Africa by the American hunter) and the societal response at least here in the states. It showed that stereotypical personality and the cultural divide when it comes wealth and poverty (global not just here). But intelligence is universal, meaning that we all have it. Some of us use it wisely to do good for ourselves and others the exact opposite. Even literal people can be very philosophical. I think movie, like can be entertaining or provoke thinking. The movie I think does the latter which include your thinking. But I also think the symbolisms is evident throughout out the movie.

          I want the easy fix, ask for the author of the screenplay about which ending is correct, yours, and/or all the possibilities I mentioned. But at the end of the day, when the author leaves it up to us, to analyze and choose for ourselves it becomes difficult, unless you are adamant about your choice and there is no wavering. Regardless, if a movie or book can do what we (all commentaries) are doing, sharing, debating, and critically thinking, I believe it is a winner. I still don’t like the ending very much, but that has to do more with our constant immediate gratification to know the why.

  5. Art is what the audience decides for it to be regardless of the art’s intended purpose. In this case, the director left it up to the viewer’s imagination what happens at the end. The director did not specify her death nor her give-up on the types of issues the film touched upon.

    I’d like to think she left her memorable remarks in the people at dinner and she decided to go for a swim to wash away all bad and negative vibes. It was her meditation time and getting back to enjoy the beauty of nature.

    She was stronger… she did not fall for her weakness which was as easy as to kill the oppose. I am sure her strength allows her to go for a swim in the middle of the night and do as she pleases.

    She had a far more stable life (not just simple) than any of the other ones sitting on that table.

  6. The ending refers to the metaphore of the ocean and the wave…all individuals are wavesand in our material world we tned to forget that we are part of a much bigger ocean and that the ocean is in us and we are in the ocean, by living her life the way she did and renouncing to her murder impulse in the final scene she is free to reunite with the whole (the ocean) since she trully stripped herself of any ego, reaching illumination in a certain way.
    It completely fits in with her buddhist beliefs.
    The ending makes perfect sense if you see it from a metaphorical stand point.

  7. the ending of this movie was not artsie or impactful, it was just a straight up let down. To sit through this full movie and have it end this way is a cop out, as if the writer was rushed or lazy, I want my money back

  8. The ending can also mean not trying to participate in the old system but leave and create the new outside of it! Baptism symbolically indicates rebirth.

  9. Learn the meaning of “Cancion de las Simples Cosas” to understand the final scene. Anyone who fails to do this misses the underlying pain that Beatriz (Salma Hayek) laments, via song, to her audience, whom she knows will never understand either it’s meaning, or the appreciation of life in the moment, as she bares her soul. Beatriz realizes the futility that her position in life, and her inability to influence things beyond her sphere, has brought her, despite the goodness,caring and giving within her. Her mortality, brought into question by her antithesis, Doug Strutt, (John Lithgow) leads her to make a series of decisions which may appear ambiguous, but all of which have a through-line based upon her life experience. Salma Hayek conveys more emotion with just a look than she ever has before. Her wordless closeups are extremely powerful. Lithgow is spot-on with his character, the ugly American. The film portrays a clash of culture, and class, that few directors would dare to examine. It dares you to think of immigrants as people, not pawns or peasants or anything less than fellow humans.

  10. At what point did the film ever show anyone, except the woman who was already predisposed to believing her, as actually changing?

  11. I thought the ending was in relation to the message she left her friend on the phone, who we assume is dead because she sees both her and the goat that was killed, on the river with the Mangrove in her dreams. In that phone message she leaves she says “maybe I can swim back to you” Ironically she was by far the most interesting person at the dinner, yet they all heard hear as somebody who was beneath them. When she returns the question of “where do you come from?” To John Lithgow I think it was about where his family came from and that we are a Nation of immigrants aside from the Native Americans. Even if your Family came over on the Mayflower you have immigrant roots….

  12. I am a white middle class female health coach/yoga instructor. I can’t figure out what this film has to do with Trump? I was moved by the spiritual vs non spiritual aspect. To me not about race but about respect for life and the earth. Not all rich white people agree with the killing of animals or with the value of money over human life. There are rich asshole in thw world as well as poor as assholes. Either you appreciate life or you dont. The film was beautiful to me until I read the reviews that made I about politics instead of good vs evil.

  13. This movie left a bad taste in my mouth. I love Selma Hayek and John Lithgow in this film. I feel her sadness, but I am confused at the end… what about her other animals? Why would she kill herself? Seems like a waste. Like when she kills him, I thought, what about her morals, her pets , her patients, her life? I loved everything but the end, hate it when they end like this. Like the movie The Grey, what gives? Sorry I’m all over probably not making sense, just saw the movie it’s almost 4am and I’m under the weather so a bit weird about this all. Just a bad taste, but still loved their acting, makee sense right?

  14. I am thinking she killed herself because in this world the people like her are in extinction, no because they die literally, the good spirits is dieing no the body because we are follow the money, popularity and power.

  15. I think that it was refreshing to see a movie with such an ambigious end. It allows our imagination to go think about different characters and especially Beatrice and how she is feeling. There are all kinds of possible endings to this story.

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