BEATRIZ AT DINNER is the 2nd film in a couple of weeks to break what I call the cardinal sin in filmmaking. And it does it again during the climax, and brings us an ending that is not as strong or memorable. Ugh, but if you want to read me bitching about this “cardinal sin” over and over again read my review for 47 Meters Down, because I’m tired of talking about it. What is really frustrating is that this film was written by Mike White, who has done great things along with films such as School of Rock and Orange County. Instead of bringing great dialogue, original ideas, and a really engaging story, here he brings us very plain words, a not so original political debate and a ho-hum story, albeit with some great performances.
Basically to some up the plot is that this rich family has this really grand personal dinner with close and wealthy friends/business people, and their lower class medical practitioner (played by Selma Hayek), who is giving the wife a massage earlier in the afternoon, her car breaks down and the wife invites her to stay for dinner until a friend can arrive so that she doesn’t have to pay an insane amount of money for a tow. Needless to say the medical practitioner is a little weird and clashes with one of the guests (played by John Lithgow) because he is a shady business enterepeneur.
Selma Hayek is fantastic in this and it is probably one of her best acting roles of her career. And John Lithgow is fantastic as always. It’s just that this movie is so bland. If you are going to have one of those movies where the film takes place in an enclosed area and you are going to have the story played out in conversations, those conversations better be pretty damn interesting. Alas, the conversations in this movie are not. Very bland and uninteresting. Hayek complains about stuff, and she leaves the room, she comes back and complains again, and leaves the room. Nothing really truly escalates to the point where it needs to escalate.
And the ending could’ve salvaged some of the film, but instead of taking it where it needed to go, it took it in a completely bizarre, unwarranted, and unearned ending. Combine that with the cardinal sin of filmmaking and you just have a very forgettable mediocre piece of film that amounts to absolutely nothing. A character does something right before the movie cuts to end credits that was so bizarre and unearned and full of cowardice that I have a feeling that Mike White completely pulled it out of his ass because he had no better way to end the film. I’ll tell you the better way, the better way would’ve been to have that cardinal sin be real. You’ll know what I mean if you ever see this movie.
But in the end, I don’t recommend that you ever see this movie. This is a talkie movie where the talk sucks and makes you want to go to sleep. Where great performances are left to die, desperately wanting to be in other and better films. And it’s a shame because Mike White is a really good screenwriter. He wanted to do a dark comedy, but the the comedy that there is is small, and the dark part of it is unearned. I was going to rate It Comes At Night the most mediocre film of the year, but perhaps I was too early to call that type of judgment. Because I would certainly watch that film again before I ever would this one. Blandest of the bland.