Film Review: Potato Dreams of America

Young Potato and Lena

Growing up in the West, I think it’s impossible to fully understand what it was like to have spent your formative years in a country which was behind the Iron Curtain or taking its first steps towards capitalism. The things we took for granted. The television we watched. what we were taught in school. the food we ate. All very different, in ways it’s often hard to comprehend. Potato Dreams of America manages to do it with a lot of humour and a great deal of panache.

Growing up in a collapsing USSR, Vasili’s (Hersh Powers) life is turbulent, to say the least. Living with his single mother (Sera Barbieri), who works as a prison doctor and calls him ‘Potato’, the future looks bleak and pre-determined. However, when she applies to a mail-order bride service it looks like their dreams of moving to America will actually come true. The USA and new husband John (Dan Lauria) don’t turn out to be quite what they both (Tyler Bocock and Marya Sea Kaminski) expected.

Potato Dreams of America is the most unusual gay autobiographical coming-of-age story you’re ever likely to see. Using a number of devices, including aspects of magical realism, Wes Hurley tells the tale of a young boy whose life is turned upside down, whilst at the same time trying to come to terms with his own sexuality. It’s certainly not a utopian fable of the American dream. While it’s uneven at times, Potato Dreams of America is consistently funny and works thanks to great writing and clever direction.

Potato Dreams of America is released in US theatres on 14 January with a VOD/Digital release to follow on 22 February.

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