Beatriz at Dinner never mentions Donald Trump, but in many ways the film acts as a snapshot of the current cultural tensions taking place in America. The movie, out June 9, takes place over the course of one elaborate dinner party, where the guest of honor, the rich, white real estate developer Doug Strutt (John Lithgow), clashes with Beatriz (Salma Hayek), a Latina healer invited at the last minute by the hostess, Cathy (Connie Britton). It would be easy to say that the movie dramatizes the conflict between personal wealth and helping others, with a specific point of view (greed: bad, generosity: good), but stars Hayek and Britton hope that Beatriz at Dinner will inspire fans to have compassion for people who have different opinions.
"My hope is that people will see reflections of themselves. They'll see reflections of other people in these characters," Britton says, speaking in New York during a recent interview. "They'll maybe get a little more insight into the way people think in varying ways, and that will kind of give a framework from which to dive into conversation."
Beatriz at Dinner has obvious parallels to the current political discourse in the U.S: Doug believes that people should indulge in anything, even if it comes at the cost of others, while Beatriz believes in devoting yourself to other living things. But for Britton, the film is so poignant precisely because it does not mention Trump or specific events. "I think it's just an opportunity to see ourselves reflected back at ourselves, and I think because it doesn't go into our actual, current political situation, that gives a freedom for people to see it and maybe have a little bit more of an open mind," the actor says.
She adds that she hopes that, because specific politics aren't present in the film, audiences will be able to get past biases and communicate with the other side. Hayek agrees, noting that she doesn't see the movie as specifically political, but rather as a reflection of a fractured country. "I find that it reflects a divided society, divided by two completely different, extreme philosophies," she says. "I think that it treats them, both of these philosophies, with a lot of respect."
Both of the movie's stars see the film as an opportunity to create more understanding. "What scares me the most about the situation we are living in in the world — it's my incapacity to understand some of the logic behind some people," Hayek says. "I want to be able to understand why they think like that, and I think it's [an] important first step: communication." And even if the movie doesn't prompt discussion with others, Britton hopes it will at least inspire self reflection. "These films allow all of us to look at ourselves and to maybe ask ourselves questions," she says, noting that those questions aren't necessarily political. "That's the power, particularly right now, in this moment in time in history."
Hayek is on the same page. For her, the film is not a movie about Trumpism or the current political climate, but about people struggling to understand one another and be understood. "Maybe [what you take away from the movie] could be something about you that is personal, that is not political, that is not social," she says. "But that is intimate. And I think that that's very exciting for me. The possibility of this film maybe starting that." Amen to that.