Festivals - Fantasia 2020: Dinner in America makes its Quebec Premiere

By Mulder, 09 august 2020

"Dinner in America is my love letter to the early '90s punk scene in Lincoln, Nebraska that served as the backdrop for my formative years. I grew up playing in bands and spent the better part of two decades 4-tracking in a series of basements, apartments, and lockouts. The DIY ethic instilled through those experiences has informed my creative process and approach to filmmaking. Dinner in America represents the first film in which I've been able to showcase that spirit within a narrative. At its heart, the film is an underdog love story about two very different characters, each marginalized misfits in their own right: Patty, a socially awkward, sheltered 20-year-old escaping her banal existence through punk music; Simon, a snarling anarchist and seemingly toxic punk seeking refuge from the law " - Adam Rehmeier

Writer/director Adam Rehmeier, to whom we already owe Jonas and The Bunny Game, created something very special here, inspired by his love of the punk scene in the early 1990s, and by the hundreds of hours he spent playing music in poorly ventilated basements in Lincoln, Nebraska. His mismatched characters, which might seem caricatured at first glance, are nonetheless built on the solid foundation of inner solitude. Emily Skeggs and Kyle Gallner breathe a resounding life into them, and the absolute connivance between the two actors is simply fascinating. It couldn't be better.

Nor is it a story about Prince Charming, for Patty's path to freedom will have to pass through the torments of creativity and conflict. It is an engaging, amusing, and beautiful story, even in its dirtiest moments. Jean-Philippe Bernier's (Turbo Kid) brilliant cinematography and Rehmeier's energetic editing also help propel the story into the stratosphere. Despite its abrasive, sometimes sickening gags, and despite hammering away at the good-natured image of the suburbs, Dinner in America is unexpectedly full of genuine affection.

Patty (Emily Skeggs, The Miseducation of Cameron Post) is uncomfortable in society. In a pet store, she works at a job she hates. Life at home is uncomfortable, to say the least. People make fun of her regularly. One day she meets a punk rocker named Simon (Kyle Gallner, Ameican Sniper), and this encounter will change her life. Not that it was love at first sight, no. Simon is dismissive, aggressive, and just a little bit of an arsonist around the edges. But never mind: the combined energies of these two pariahs will set off a sort of odyssey of revolt that will lead them through the squandered suburbs of the American Midwest. In a universe halfway between Welcome to the Dollhouse and Repo Man, this film is a wildly dishevelled punk anthem and an anti-romantic comedy that turns out, in the end, to be genuinely romantic. It's about self-discovery through anger, creativity and music.

Dinner in America
Directed by Adam Rehmeier
Produced by John Covert, David Hunter, Ross Putman, Sam Slater, Ben Stiller, Nicholas Weinstock
Written by Adam Rehmeier
Starring Kyle Gallner, Emily Skegg, Brittany Sheets, Pat Healy, Griffin Gluck, Lea Thompson
Music by John Swihart
Cinematography : Jean-Philippe Bernier
Edited by Adam Rehmeier
Production company : Atlas Industries, Bee-Hive Productions, PSH Collective, Red Hour Films, Visit Films
Release date : January 24, 2020 (Sundance)
Running time : 106 minutes

(Source : official website Fantasia 2020)