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Beatriz at Dinner

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i saw Beatriz at Dinner for the second time last night (free on amazon) and i cannot believe that the film has not garnered more attention. it’s such a subtle but precise take down of capitalism. the film has been described as being about the 1% or about trumpism. it’s so much more. it’s about white privilege, it’s about class, it’s about immigration, but it’s mostly, overarchingly about capitalism and its centrality in western culture. reviewers have talked about “class polarization” but to me the unevenness or discomfort created by the coming together of different socio-economic classes, at a dinner party, is not so much about some kind of communication gap (if only we could all dialogue), rather it’s an exposĂ© of the arrogance, vulgarity and violence of capitalism foregrounded against cultures from elsewhere, in this case a small town near acapulco whose mangroves provide a beautiful, calming visual contrast to the crass agenda of the dinner party. i also felt the weight of patriarchy throughout the film. the women in the film are much warmer, more human, yet they are happy to take a backseat and support their husbands in their big-boy, big-money capitalist ventures. the protagonist, beatriz, is played by salma hayek, who is unrecognizable in this film. a masseuse and healer from mexico, whose family was displaced by a big american hotel that failed, she has a strong connection to nature and people, and can feel others’ pain sharply – a skill that is obviously missing from the room (and perhaps from mainstream american society). hayek is absolutely stunning in this film – the first time that we get to fully experience her many gifts. she sings a lovely song, towards the end of the film which, for a minute, seems to break through the greedy business at hand and move the other guests, but they recover soon enough. the film’s end has been criticized but it made sense to me. it’s a way to return to the mangroves of another time and place, a way to circumvent displacement.

Beatriz at Dinner

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