Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published September 25th 2017
The dinner guest from hell
We have all at some time been at an excruciating party. A party where one of the guests is totally embarrassing, expressing views and opinions completely at odds with everyone else.
These evenings of social discomfort linger long in our memories and Beatriz at Dinner will also remain in your mind causing you to think long after you've brushed the popcorn off your lap and gone home.
Beatriz (Salma Hayek) (Photograph courtesy Luna Leederville)
The plot is very simple. Beatriz (played amazingly well by Salma Hayek) is a humble healer, working in a cancer centre plying Reiki, hands on therapies and general saintliness.
One of her clients is Cathy (Connie Britton), wife of a wealthy construction tycoon and when Beatriz's car breaks down she gets hospitably invited to a small dinner party Cathy and her husband are throwing for a fabulously wealthy developer, Doug Strutt (a bravura performance by John Lithgow).
Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) (Photograph courtesy Luna Leederville)
Beatriz, who fits in like a warthog at a gazelles only cocktail party, rapidly gets drunk and turns into the guest from Hell, abusing their hospitality and insulting the other guests when they fail to meet her high standards.
One definition of an 'art house movie' is that the cast have more back story than plot and that's certainly true here. Gradually we learn why Beatriz is the way she is and the movie winds it way to its surprising conclusion.
It's an odd movie, well acted and directed but with, in my view, a strong flavour of self-indulgence, of hobby horses ridden into a lather and a point of view relentlessly over-sold.
We are invited to sympathise and morally align ourselves with Beatriz, an impulsive, emotional, unstable, immature, bleeding heart whose idea of extensive research is half an hour on Google.
Wonderful acting, strong performances all round, beautifully photographed but with a morally ambiguous plot I found it, as I hope you will, intriguing and thought-provoking.
My sympathies are with the tow-truck driver who did nothing wrong and got shafted on his bill.
Beatriz at Dinner opens at Luna Leederville and Luna on SX from September 28th.
About 30odd yrs ago, the (late Vic 'FunnyFace'. Gordon) had a mini theatre restaurant in GlenHuntly Road, GlenHuntly.
We, as a group of 8 mates, went there one night and had FONDUE for the first time ever!
It was a brilliant night and we laughed with the entire show. The venue was small - very small - but the talent and the 'new' fondue fun was amazing. We had a ball.
It would be wonderful if someone else would take a chance, take over a small local restaurant (even doing Fondue) and brought local comedy actors to the suburbs again.
Thank you to Vic 'FunnyFace' Gordon and team for giving us a night that none of us have forgotten - and only spoke of last week.
Maybe this missive will hit the right bell with some other performers.