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Beatriz at Dinner

Salma Hayek is a Mexican immigrant who exposes the ugly face of the Los Angeles aristocracy, revealing that Trump's wall is already firmly in place - live from Sundance

Mexican actress and producer Salma Hayek hits the US on the face with the dramatic comedy Beatriz at Dinner. The film played at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24th, one night before Donald Trump signed the construction of the border wall between US and Mexico. The president has started to reshape US immigration enforcement policies via executive action, building a border wall and punishing “sanctuary cities”. Salma’s character shows us that such wall is already firmly in place.

Salma Hayek plays a Reiki healer and a sensitive Mexican immigrant who lives in the outskirts of Los Angeles. She has an office in a cancer clinic, but she also serves rich people in luxurious mansions. One day, she visits Cathy (Connie Britton), the mother of a young woman whom she helped to recover from chemotherapy. After her usual holistic therapy session with Cathy, Beatriz is ready to go back home to her goats and dogs. Beatriz loves animals and she is a vegetarian.

Fate keeps Beatriz inside the house. Her car breaks down. Cathy invites her to stay for dinner, but the idea of having a Mexican employee in a business dinner is not welcomed by Cathy’s husband, Grant (David Warshofsky). The dinner is being held in order to celebrate a business deal with Doug (John Lithgow), who builds resorts in idyllic locations.

The other guests – played by Chloë Sevigny, John Lithgow, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass – mistake Beatriz for a maid. At first, Beatriz doesn’t realise the huge class gap between herself and the rich Americans. She is proud of her work and tries to convince every guest of the importance of healing, spirituality, and of love for nature and animals. Cathy politely explains to the other guests how Beatriz helped her daughter to fight cancer, but soon she realises that Beatriz is a threat at dinner. She won’t stop embarrassing the hosts with her spiritual and social commentary.

The way Salma sees Beatriz is key to understanding the contribution that Mexicans make to the US, especially female immigrants. She brings strength, wisdom and innocence to her character. She is impulsive and gentle at the same time. She challenges the social barriers and respects mankind. She is the quintessential Latin American in Hollywood as well as in the indie scene – the film falls in the latter category.

Beatriz becomes increasingly unsettled. She thinks that she has previously met Doug. She asks whether he has ever built a hotel in her hometown in Mexico and begins to suspect that he is the man who caused many deaths and an environmental tragedy. The narrative then provides not one, but two twists, revealing Beatriz’s subliminal determination to take revenge on behalf of her people. The script is cleverly written so to reveal the ugly face of American society. People like Doug – who have no respect for immigrants and will still heap the financial benefits they offer – have now been legitimised by Donald Trump’s election. The film is a harsh criticism of the social barriers that already exist in Los Angeles.

We don’t know yet when the film will hit the cinema, but if you follow us on Twitter we will inform you in good time! Meanwhile, you can watch the film trailer below:

By Maysa Monção - 25-01-2017

Maysa Monção is a Brazilian writer, teacher, translator, editor and art performer who currently lives in London. She has a Masters Degree in Film Studies from Tor Vergata University in Rome, Italy, ...

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