Dinner in America (2020) – Film Review

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Premiering at Sundance Film Festival 2020, Dinner in America is a dark comedy written and directed by Adam Rehmeier. The story focuses on the elusive Simon (Kyle Gallner) while he is on the run from the police. He crosses paths with beatnik Patty (Emily Skreggs) and they form an unexpected connection through her favourite rock band Psy Ops.

When we first meet the gravelly-voiced Simon, he comes across as an opportunistic and hateful pyromaniac. His antagonistic nature pushes everyone away and facilitates his reclusive drug-dealing lifestyle, but he is forced to lay low. It is not until we see him at a diner that we realise that he is funding his own personal agenda, making him more of an anti-hero than another loner loser in the world. With no one willing to connect to him, it is no wonder that he finds a kindred spirit in bespectacled loner Patty, who is equally snarky but her naivety makes her a victim of her bully peers while her parents don’t see her more than a dishwasher in a food court. With such little encouragement or support, she loses herself in music and her love letters and explicit Polaroids to Psy Ops’ frontman John Q. Slowly guided by Simon’s dark nature, Patty finds her voice and realises her potential that manifests through a surprisingly tender scene involving one of her poems.

Rehmeier’s comedically dark screenplay reinforces his protagonists’ rebellious nature amid the mundane suburban backdrop that screams of 1990s America. Offering a melee of quotable lines, his screenplay shines during a series of awkward but delightfully nostalgic family dinners, where Simon stirs things up with comedic effect. In contrast, Rehmeier’s direction stabilises the delightfully chaotic plot that offers a solid platform for Gallner and Skriggs to deliver two winsome performances.

Overall, Dinner in America comes across an unconventional romantic comedy but at its heart, it is like its protagonists – quirky, different, unashamedly punk-rock and a surprising delight.

Dinner in America is released on digital platforms on 1 June.

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

Director: Adam Rehmeier
Stars: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Brittany Sheets, Pat Healy, Griffin Gluck, Lea Thompson
Runtime: 106 minutes
Country: USA

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