Salma Hayek hits the big screen on Friday with ‘Beatriz at Dinner’, a dramedy that is both politically charged and awkwardly funny. The film from director Miguel Arteta portrays current immigrant situations. Scheduled to start a conversation about this issue.
Salma Hayek stars as the lead character. A woman separated from her family after a failed real estate project decimated her small town. She’s now an immigrant living in the U.S; who makes her living as a massage therapist among the wealthy in Orange County, Southern California.
Beatriz ends up as the surprise guest to her client’s dinner party, due to a car problem. From there on the dinner, well, just turned out unexpectedly.
A deliciously awkward dinner party
Over the course of dinner and drinks, Beatriz catches a glimpse into the privileged and tone deaf lives of her companions. An ambitious upstart couple, starred by Jay Duplass and Chloe Sevigny, the mogul and his younger wife John Lithgow and Amy Landecker. And finally her monied hosts, four-time Emmy nominee Connie Britton and David Warshofsky.
Without spoiling too much, Hayek and Lithgow’s characters are increasingly at odds. As they share their values and world views over the lush evening.It’s eventually revealed they have a past connection to a tragic event in Beatriz’s hometown. From then on, the film fractures into a “magical realism” as the night ends.
“She’s surrounded by powerful, beautiful, well dressed, intelligent rich people but she has her own grace,” “I think what eventually happens to her, at this dinner, she realizes that this place she longs for is not a physical place — its a return to innocence and purity,” Hayek concluded.
The script was born thanks to ‘Cecil the Lion’
It was two weeks before Salma Hayek’s 49th birthday, when Mike White told her he was finally going to write that script about the dinner party. The one he’d promised her almost a year earlier. The screenplay would be loosely inspired by a real-life dinner the two had attended. But Hayek knew nothing else about the story, except that she would be the lead.
During an interview, Salma Hayek said that the first idea that Mike White had about this dinner film was the killing Cecil the lion. Referring to the shooting of a well-known lion in Zimbabwe, by an American dentist that sparked international outrage.
White wrote the script while trying to imagine what he would say to Cecil’s killer if he sat across from him at dinner. And this is how ‘Beatriz at Dinner’, centers not only on the immigrant situation but environmental issues and humanity itself.
“It goes beyond being an immigrant; its a hope for humanity. The crisis [escalates] the more she hears the other people talk and gets to know them better,” Hayek said.
Even when the movie seems to portray recent days issues, the script was actually finished before Trump was a serious candidate for president. “When you watch the movie, it’s very strange, it’s kind of uncanny,” Hayek says. “It’s like [White] predicted the future.”
Finding common ground
‘Beatriz in Dinner’ is a much-needed portrayal of the kind of debates taking place in Trump’s America. From immigration, to economy and environmental issues.
“We have to dramatize that and tell that story, because it’s what’s happening right now. You don’t see these people interact in stories and plays. I can’t even think of another example,” Lithgow who plays the “villain” in the movie says.
As the night and the dinner go on, we can’t help but match it with a real life situation. Beatriz’s immigrant status, finds itself framed by the president’s promise to deport three million immigrants and build a wall on the border with Mexico.
America’s rich-poor divide is sharply depicted in the film: plain Beatriz is clearly out of place with the tall, white, well-manicured women in high heels. Right by their husbands, who smoke cigars as they discuss business deals.
The building of projects disregarding the environment and its effects on local residents, is the disguised issuesi in which centers the entire conversation. However, the movie also features an invitation to come together and start the dialogue.
In one scene, Beatriz rejoins the group to play for them a simplistic but haunting folk song on an acoustic guitar. Hayek learned to play the song that’s an invitation to protect and take care of simple things, such as the environment.
In the scene, as Lithgow’s character listens to the music, he smiles and nods, giving himself over to Beatriz’s call. Lithgow, Arteta, and Hayek see the moment as a chance, in the clashing of cultures, to find some common ground.
Source: The Wrap