Beatriz at Dinner (2017)
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The premise of Beatriz at Dinner - a Mexican-born therapist is stranded at a dinner party with ruthless business mogul - could have gone one of two ways. It could have been a punch-the-air triumph of liberalism movie, but that would be too easy. Instead, a more realistic naturalism is invoked, while still managing an elliptical ending tinged with both despair and hope. Salma Hayek and John Lithgow are both excellent in their roles, at least sincere in their extremism, while the rest of the cast are purposely vapid and superficial, which makes me hate them more than I would the greedy Conservative of the story. The film plays on that ambivalence, presenting two characters who I would never be friends with in real life - despite having my heart within seconds, Hayek's Beatriz is too loopy and mystical for me - neither of which I can totally agree with, and yet both endearing in their own way. So without a firm win on either side, what we get is a study in awkwardness, an image of the Lib/Con divide that currently has its grip on Western society and makes people unable to communicate or empathize. It's beautifully shot, edited and scored too. I wasn't sure what to think, coming out of the theater, but the more I think about the film's deep ambivalence, which goes even beyond the story itself and into its uncertain future, I think I appreciate it more and more.
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