Everyone knows Salma Hayek as a celebrated performer, self-starting producer, one-time 30 Rock guest star, former model, and all-around sex symbol. But the upcoming cringe comedy Beatriz at Dinner will deal her the greatest acting challenge of her career, and possibly change all that in the process. She’s played glamour girls, Frida Kahlo, a physical manifestation of creative inspiration, and now she’ll go harder against type than ever by portraying a normal-looking person. As the title character, decked out with mom jeans and a dowdy haircut, she’ll have to convince audiences that Salma Hayek could be treated like some Plain Jane by people who don’t give her a second glance. It is what we in the business call a “hard sell.”

But judging from the trailer, by gum, she‘s pulling it off. Her awkward, unassuming Beatriz joins a trio of couples (portrayed by a marvelous ensemble including John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Chloe Sevigny, David Warshofsky and Transparent siblings Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass) for a dinner party that quickly turns sour. Firmly middle-class and committed to her spiritual lifestyle as a natural healer, Beatriz casts a shady glance at the moneyed, right-wing, rhino-slaughtering hosts of the evening’s soiree. Dinner table discourse grows in vitriol until the night devolves into a drunken screaming contest, like Roman Polanski’s recent Carnage without the pretense of resolving conflict between children.

The trailer promises a delectably uncomfortable time, and the pedigree practically guarantees it. The film comes from the director-writer team of Miguel Arteta and Mike White, the pair responsible for the masterly and criminally under-seen 2000 black comedy Chuck and Buck. That film pulled no punches in its depiction of a brutally hard-to-watch one-sided friendship, and it looks like the pair is out for bourgeois blood with their newest effort. Throw in a warm reception for the film back at Sundance and a supporting performance from riotous talent-on-the-rise John Early, and this has all the makings of a new cult sensation. Let the war of words begin.

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