Fantasia Festival Review – Dinner in America

There’s nothing American independent cinema seems to like more than oddballs. Those characters who sit somewhere outside of the norm but usually find themselves thrust into extremely ordinary situations for comedic effect. Sometimes, even romance can bloom. We’re primed to root for the outsider. Life’s underdogs. The people suffering daily degradations and heartache simply for not conforming with what is considered to be normal within society. Adam Rehmeier’s new film, Dinner in America, pairs an unlikely couple.

Now at the age of twenty, Patty’s (Emily Skeggs) life hasn’t even started to begin. Working in a dead-end job and having to suffer her annoying brother (Griffin Gluck) and her rather conservative and over-protective parents (Pat Healey and Mary Lynn Rajskub), she spends much of her days dosed-up on prescription medication. Patty’s one escape is her love of punk music, especially PsyOps and its mysterious lead singer. A chance meeting with Simon (Kyle Gallner), a hyper-aggressive punk rocker with a tendency for pyromania who is on the run from the cops, changes everything.

Whilst it contains many of the tropes and themes you might expect from a teen romantic comedy, Dinner in America is told in an entirely unusual way. Don’t expect neatly tied up loose ends or your usual happy or tragic ending. Much of Rehmeier’s film is bathed in ambiguity. Taking its cues from the likes of Breakfast Club and Ghost World, Dinner in America is a rebel. A film which refuses to adhere to convention or to fit snugly into a box. It’s a bold and captivating tale of love in the margins.

Dinner in America screened at Fantasia Festival.

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