Beatriz at Dinner ★★★½

Thought-provoking and admirably complex though it is, this isn't as devastating as the two Miguel Arteta-Mike White collaborations that made me a believer, Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl, two of the very few modern comedies with an emotional depth that can choke you up for months or years after you see them. This film reminded me much more of White's TV series Enlightened with its empathetic exploration of a character who's not necessarily concerned with audience likability, and its portrait of a fractured culture and its lost causes. Salma Hayek completely embodies (down to the awkward haircut) the title character, an alt-medicine practitioner and masseuse whose general compassion and love of animals leads to uncomfortable conversations with a Trump-like tycoon and big game hunter played by John Lithgow, a consequence of her car breaking down outside a client's house. Misleadingly billed as a comedy itself, this in fact is vastly more serious and melancholy than the earlier Arteta-White movies, again much more like Enlightened, a show that could seem inconsequential and annoying as it played, only to come back and bite you some time later. Its narrative thread is basically a surrender, an admission that love and peace are losing propositions within capitalism, and that you can't fight city hall. It's not exactly profound, and it won't brighten your evening, but it's got soul.