“Beatriz at Dinner” Salma Hayek’s Oscar Worthy Performance

Miguel Arteta and Salma Hayek will be at Q&A the Arclight Theaters for the 7:30 Screening of Beatriz at Dinner

By Bel Hernandez

Beatriz at Dinner was written by Mike White and directed by Miguel Arteta for Salma Hayek.  How often do you hear of a Hollywood film being written specifically for a Latina actress, and a 50 year old at that!  Dubbed as a “film for the Trump era” after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Salma’s performance has been lauded by reviewers, and based on Salma’s name, audience anticipation is palpable.

Not a big budget film, Beatriz at Dinner will need to rely on reviews and word of mouth. The reviews have praised White’s writing and Arteta’s direction and in particular have lauded Salma’s performance as one of her best performances to date.  However, audiences who have many choices on where to spend their $13 – $20 per ticket, decide the monetary success of a film and if the 98% rating on Rotten Tomato’s AudienceMeter is any indication, Beatriz at Dinner will have a good opening this Friday, June 9th.

Latinos on social media are abuzz with anticipation to see Salma’s latest film.  She is what a lot of Latinos in the U.S. consider “Hollywood Royalty” and that is a good thing because Latino audiences can make or break a film.  Latinos make up 18% of the U.S. population; are 23% of all movie goers; and have a film attendance of 4.6 (per capita) times a year, making Latinos the most frequent movie goers of any ethnic group (MPAA).  If every single Latino who posted on social media bought a ticket to Beatriz at Dinner, they can make the film a box office hit.  Yes, U.S. Latinos have that much power at the box office.

As we meet Beatriz, (Salma) she is lovingly tending to her pets in her bedroom.  As we look around the bedroom we sense that Beatriz is a simple, spiritual, and ethereal being, who loves her animals but is deeply troubled that a neighbor has killed her pet goat.  After showing her pets some love Beatriz drives off in her beat up VW to her work at Arendale Cancer Center where she treats cancer patients with her healing skills as a masseuse and Reiki healer (Japanese technique that promotes healing).  She also makes house calls and on this day she drives out to Newport Beach to see one of her clients Cathy, a wealthy housewife (Connie Britton) who is fitting in a massage before hosting a lavish celebratory dinner for her husband and his business partner Doug Strutt (John Lithgow).

Beatriz is invited to dinner when her VW breaks down and well meaning Cathy, convinces her husband (David Warshofsky) that there is no harm in having Beatriz join the dinner party, while she waits for her friend to come and pick her up.  Cathy trusts and loves Beatriz, as she helped her daughter get through her bout with cancer and she is forever grateful.  The dinner party is set.

An immigrant from Mexico, Beatriz is not intimidated to be at the table among the very rich anglo guests, after all aren’t all humans alike? At least, that is what Beatriz practices through her calmness and zen-beliefs. So when Strutt begins to throw his veiled digs (increasingly becoming less veiled), across the dinner table, she has the manners and wisdom to not respond in-kind.  As she learns more about Strutt’s work of decimating communities (as she looks at it)  and his hunting of animals, well all bets are off.  Just because she did not impose her point of view on the discussion at the dinner table, did not mean she didn’t have one.  And when the time is right she speaks out without a thought to the seemingly “inappropriateness” of her outburst, leading her friend/host Cathy to remark to Beatriz “I kind of feel like I don’t even know you”,  to which Beatriz responses “You don’t know me”.

For Salma this is not just a role of a lifetime, it is a gift, as for women in Hollywood ageism is real and the roles become fewer and far between.  However, it goes beyond that. For Salma, this is personal.  “It’s been one of the best things I have ever done,” she said in an interview on The Build Series. She publicly thanked White and Arteta for the role saying, “I felt so lucky and very moved because… I really felt they really saw me…in the way he directed [Arteta] and the way he wrote it [White]… They really saw inside of me”.  She added, “Whereas a lot of the parts I play it’s people who look but not really see,” most likely talking about the roles that she has done that are primarily based on her looks.

Beatriz at Dinner also tackles issues like immigration, which are very close to her heart.  However, for Salma fans that are looking to see her in full makeup looking sexy, you will see Salma’s extraordinary natural beauty in this film.  You will see a beautifully executed nuanced performance that subtly, addressing  issues that resonate in this Trump era. Issues that compel Beatriz to no longer stay silent but to speak up, as at times we all wish we had the guts to do.  It is about a character who cares about the world we live in and the beings that we share it with.  It is about caring and the price Beatriz is willing to pay to not become one of the indifferent and uncaring.  It is most assuredly, an Oscar worthy performance.

Beatriz at Dinner opens on June 9th

On the COOList scale of 1 – 10 this is off the scale COOOOOOOOOOOList

Cast:  Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Chloë Sevigny, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, David Warshofsky, John Early.
Creatives:  Director: Miguel Arteta. Screenplay: Mike White. Camera (color, widescreen): Wyatt Garfield. Editor: Jay Deuby.
A Killer Films, Bron Studios production. Producers: Pamela Koffler, Aaron L. Gilbert, David Hinojosa, Christine Vachon. Executive producers: Jason Cloth, Andy Pollack, Alan Simpson, Richard McConnell, Sander Shalinsky, Lewis M. Hendler, Jose Tamez, Brad Feinstein, Paul Tennyson.
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