Salma Hayek Gives a Performance From the Heart in “Beatriz at Dinner”
By Skip Sheffield
Salma Hayek is one of the sexiest women working in the movie business today. But in “Beatriz at Dinner” she totally deglamorizes herself to play the title character, a Mexican immigrant who has made a living working as a masseuse for the ultra-rich in Southern California.
It is at one of these showplace houses that her car breaks down. Her employer Kathy (Connie Britton) invites her to wait in the house and then goes one further by inviting Beatriz to a dinner party later that evening. Reluctantly Beatriz accepts, much to the chagrin of the lord of the house, Doug Strutt (John Lithgow).
The evening begins well enough, with Beatriz remaining meek, quiet and mild while Doug Strutt shamelessly brags about his business conquests and ruthless tactics. After a few glasses of wine Beatriz gets her courage up. When Doug begins bragging about shooting a rhino in Africa, she explodes, to everyone’s amazement.
It is hard not to think of Donald Trump when considering the vain, arrogant character of Doug Strutt. I suspect that’s what Puerto Rican-born director Miguel Arteta (“Youth in Revolt”) and Southern California writer Mike White (“School of Rock,” “Nacho Libre”) had in mind. This movie is billed as a comedy, but it is not so funny when it uncomfortably resembles our current situation of haves and have-nots. The beauty of it is when Mexican-born Salma Hayek explodes with real passion, speaking for downtrodden immigrants everywhere. I think it is her finest performance, frumpy appearance and all. Right-wingers will not like this film, but “bleeding heart liberals” surely will.