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Beatriz at Dinner DVD Review

Beatriz at Dinner (2017) movie poster Beatriz at Dinner

Theatrical Release: June 9, 2017 / Running Time: 82 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Miguel Arteta / Writer: Mike White

Cast: Salma Hayek (Beatriz Luna), John Lithgow (Doug Strutt), Connie Britton (Kathy Birkhofer), Amy Landecker (Jeana), Jay Duplass (Alex), Chloλ Sevigny (Shannon), David Warshofsky (Grant Birkhofer), John Early (Evan), Soledad St. Hilaire (Rosa), Enrique Castillo (Marcus)

Buy Beatriz at Dinner from Amazon.com: DVD • Instant Video

Beatriz at Dinner is not what you might expect from a writer of Nacho Libre and the female lead of the Grown Ups movies, but neither Mike White nor Salma Hayek deserves to be identified purely by their biggest commercial successes.
The varied careers of the scribe and the actress intersect on this independent character study, which is closer to My Dinner with Andre than Dinner for Schmucks.

Health therapist Beatriz Luna (Hayek) is like a member of the family as far as Kathy Birkhofer (Connie Britton) is concerned. On this Friday night, Beatriz fights traffic to arrive late but perform a much-needed massage for Kathy, who is busy making sure a catered dinner party goes as planned at her and her husband's stately Newport Beach mansion.

With her car broke down and her friend from Altadena unable to make it out to tow her home, Beatriz receives an invitation to the night's big party. It's a business meal, intended to update and celebrate the work being done by respected real estate mogul Doug Strutt (John Lithgow). Doug, his third wife (Amy Landecker), a younger colleague (Jay Duplass) and his wife (Chloe Sevigny) are sort of taken aback by the casually-dressed Beatriz sharing the same space as them.

Salma Hayek plays Beatriz Luna, a good-hearted holistic therapist who surprises her wealthy company with some frank, personal conversation in "Beatriz at Dinner."

The night starts off adequately, with Beatriz accepting some white wine and kind of lurking about as Doug and others schmooze and talk shop. Disarming the company by dominating the dinner conversation, Beatriz thinks she recognizes Doug and she believes he is the real estate developer responsible for bringing pain to her hometown in Mexico with a quickly shuttered complex that crippled the local economy.

The movie unfolds with Beatriz either keeping her feelings in check or not. Quietly disgusted by the women's discussion of a herpes-addled reality star's hacked gynecological pictures, she is later vocally repulsed by
Doug regaling the others with his tales of hunting a rhinoceros in Africa. Tensions flare as Beatriz shares her belief in reincarnation and challenges Doug's life decisions.

I wish there was something to redeem this film. It is a talky production designed to be a study of characters sharing a space with someone different. It feels like theatre, but without the great dialogue and performances that might elevate such a play.

At least it's brief, running just under 82 minutes with end credits. But director Miguel Arteta, who impressed me with the comedies Cedar Rapids and Youth in Revolt, cannot do anything to squeeze some intrigue out of this premise. The seemingly ludicrous final act is terrible enough to nearly sink the film, but that its turns are not what they seem to be doesn't make things any better. Nor does an uninspired film-closing use of Brian Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)", that was so effectively used in Traffic and 28 Days Later.

Though its $7.1 million domestic haul from a max theater count of 683 was respectable by modern measures, Beatriz at Dinner was still considered minor enough for Lionsgate to recently release it on DVD but not Blu-ray.

Beatriz at Dinner DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extra Not Subtitled
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $25.99
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Beatriz at Dinner doesn't look as great as most of its contemporaries do, simply because it hasn't been released on Blu-ray. The DVD's 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is certainly agreeable judged by the standards of standard definition. But the picture lacks sharpness and the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack seems flat compared to what high definition typically delivers.

The theatrical trailer for "Beatriz at Dinner" includes this icky pull quote from Yahoo! Movies. Beatriz gives a massage on the "Beatriz at Dinner" DVD main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Beatriz at Dinner's only extra here is its theatrical trailer (2:31), which Lionsgate typically leaves off of their discs.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the disc-opening full trailers for Lady MacBeth, How to Be a Latin Lover, Dean, The Dinner, and The Wall.

The suitably designed main menu plays clips within a plate between silverware.

No extras accompany the plain gray disc inside the slipcovered, eco-friendly black keepcase.

John Lithgow gives a convincing performance as pompous, wealthy real estate developer Doug Strutt, Beatriz's foil in "Beatriz at Dinner."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Beatriz at Dinner lets Salma Hayek and John Lithgow sink their teeth into substantial roles, but to what end? This stuffy drama holds little narrative appeal. Lionsgate's barebones DVD does nothing to encourage even a rental.

Buy Beatriz at Dinner from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Salma Hayek: RoadRacers • Here Comes the Boom • Traffic • Grown Ups • Grown Ups 2 • Sausage Party
John Lithgow: • Footloose • Rise of the Planet of the Apes • Santa Claus: The Movie • Interstellar
Directed by Miguel Arteta: Cedar Rapids • Youth in Revolt • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day | Written by Mike White: Brad's Status
New to Disc: The Dinner • Dean • Chuck • A Ghost Story • Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer • All Eyez on Me
My Dinner with Andre • Babette's Feast • Dinner for Schmucks • The Trip to Spain • Table 19

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Reviewed October 4, 2017.



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