Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a holistic masseuse and health practitioner for the upper crust in the new movie Beatriz at Dinner. After an appointment at the house of Cathy (Connie Britton), one of her clients, her car breaks down and she can’t get a ride back to town from the remote home. So Cathy invites her to stay for dinner, which will involve a number of guests, most of whom are similarly part of the 1%.
Things quickly get uncomfortable, though, as Beatriz’s personality and outlook on the world don’t mesh with those of Cathy’s guests, That’s especially true of Doug (John Lithgow), a wealthy business owner who believes in getting as much as you can as quickly as you can whatever the cost. He and Beatriz clash about the care for the rest of mankind, the environment and everything else.
The poster is a literal representation of the title, showing Hayek, flanked by Lithgow and Britton, sitting at a dinner table and looking around at the other guests. “She was invited, but she’s not welcome” we’re told just below the title, hinting at the title character’s uncomfortable place in the social mix. A few positive quotes from early reviews sit alongside the movie’s Sundance badge.
The trailer presents an awkward black comedy about identity, values and more. We meet Beatriz as she’s introduced at a dinner party and told she’s a holistic healer. Things get weird when she’s mistaken for the help by Doug Strutt, a big time business man who doesn’t have time for little people. He and Beatriz clash on a number of fronts and she sets out to try and convince him of the error of his ways in just about every aspect of his lifestyle and business. That causes things to get uncomfortable for everyone else at the party as the two keep going at each other on one topic after another.
It’s a neat trailer that shows off the performances, especially those of Hayek and Lithgow. The two of them get all the best verbal barbs to toss back and forth and we clearly see that there’s a final confrontation between the two that will form the climax of the story, pitting her healing worldview against his more pragmatic and entitled one.
The short second trailer shows why Beatriz winds up staying for dinner, it’s because her car has broken down. She’s nervous in this situation and quickly shows she’s not a great fit with this well-off crowd, questioning and challenging their worldview of entitlement. That’s pretty much where it ends, though, without getting into the results of that conflict.
Online and Social
There’s not a ton going on over at the movie’s official website. It opens on the “Videos” section that has the main trailer so you can watch that again if you choose. Close that and go back to “Home” and you’ll see a rotating carousel of positive pull quotes from early reviews, a prompt to save the release date to the calendar of your choice and links to the movie’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. The “Synospis” offers a good overview of the story along with a cast and crew list. After that there are just a couple of pushes to get you to share the site’s link on the social platform of your choice.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve seen, though there may be some paid work being done in select locations the movie is rolling out at this weekend.
Media and Publicity
The first bit of publicity came when it was announced the movie would have its official premiere at Sundance 2017. Roadside and FilmNation picked it up from there.
Hayek made various appearances and interviews to talk about the movie, but that’s about it on the publicity front and there doesn’t seem to be any sort of big pop at any point. There were a few articles like this one that called out the obvious connections between the movie’s story and the current U.S. political climate we’re in but otherwise, aside from the official marketing materials, not much activity here.
I feel like this is being sold as being a bit more dramatic than it actually is. Like there’s more tension that’s on display here than actually exists, or at least a different kind of tension. It wants us to believe that Hayek and Lithgow’s characters almost come to blows over disagreements around the dinner table when I’m guessing that’s not remotely the case.
Mostly, though, the campaign shows just how toxic political discourse has become. Oddly, though, it doesn’t try to defuse that at all, it shows that it must eventually come to a head and lead to hurt feelings and strained relationships. Some of the things coming out of Lithgow’s mouth sound like exact comments from Trump surrogates on the campaign trail and some of the lines from Hayek are just the sort of hippy talking points coming from the left. So the marketing is selling a movie that’s highly political while also trying to be very personal and intimate. It’s unclear whether the finished movie overcomes the stereotypes on display in the trailers, though.