It’s never been harder for independent movies to stand up and get noticed but new movie Beatriz at Dinner, starring Salma Hayek and John Lithgow, reckons it has the solution: brand itself as the ‘Trump movie’.
The film is about a Mexican-born holistic medicine practitioner (Hayek) who attends a wealthy client’s dinner party after her car breaks down and winds up arguing with a billionaire real estate mogul (Lithgow) who proclaims himself in the trailer to be a job creator and asks Hayek’s character if she came to the U.S legally.
To be sure there are similarities with the current occupant of the White House. But whilst we haven’t seen it, the movie seems more of a talky culture-clash comedy of manners than an overtly political movie.
There is no talk of a wall and Beatriz At Dinner—directed by Miguel Arteta and written by Mike White who also collaborated on Jennifer Aniston-starrer The Good Girl—presumably doesn’t end with Lithgow becoming the leader of the free world.
Nevertheless the movie’s marketing operation which roared into life with the release of the trailer seems fixated on a quote from Yahoo’s review from its Sundance premiere as “The First Great Film of the Trump Era.”
— Beatriz at Dinner (@beatrizdinner) April 12, 2017
Just In case we didn’t get the message, Beatriz at Dinner retweeted the Presidential connection:
— The Film Stage 📽 (@TheFilmStage) April 12, 2017
To be fair to the filmmakers and distributor Roadside Attractions, the liberal media is giving them plenty of track to ride the Trump train. NPR called Beatriz At Dinner “the first kind of real cinematic allegory of the Trump era” while Slate declared, “As far as metaphors for our entire country go, this one might be just a little too on-the nose”.
But is it the right strategy? A producer who saw the movie at Sundance told Heat Street, “They’re throwing the movie away if they sell it as a ‘Trump movie’. It’s a solid seven-out-of-ten movie which in this day and age is very good. They should let the undoubted parallels speak for themselves rather than forcing them on their audience. Anyway, by the time the film has come out, people will be even more fed up of the political climate than they are already.”
And by no means all critics at Sundance thought the correlation between life and art was that uncanny. Variety wrote: “As written, these super-elite 0.00001 percenters are straw figures ready to be burnt at the stake of White’s and Arteta’s righteous indignation.”
Hayek has been critical of Trump, revealing she turned him down when he asked her for a date and saying his administration presides over “a parallel universe of disinformation”. Expect more of this when she promotes her new movie from next month onwards.
But you probably won’t hear much from Hayek about her real dinner with Trump. She was one of the guests at a Gucci and Madonna fundraiser in February 2008 that coincided with the opening of the Gucci store in Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. Trump attended the dinner along with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Somehow we doubt they’ll all be reuniting for the premiere of Beatriz At Dinner. Trump will surely be there in spirit though.