Dinner in America review: A future cult classic
Kyle Gallner as a punk rocker10
Emily Skeggs as an obsessive fangirl10
Blistering, poetic soundtrack10
Katherine McLaughlin | On 02, Jun 2021
Director: Adam Rehmeier
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs
Where to watch Dinner in America online in the UK: Arrow UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Virgin Movies / Sky Store
Kyle Gallner and Emily Skeggs star as two lost outsiders who find love in writer/director Adam Rehmeier’s obnoxiously charming, punk-infused misfit romance. A hit at Sundance, it’s an indie film that strikes all the right notes as it blends the exhilarating thrill of the lovers-on-the-lam genre with hilarious black comedy; think Todd Solondz meets John Waters via Martha Coolidge’s Valley Girl.
Director Rehmeier has stated that he was inspired by the 1990s punk scene and his time growing up in Midwest America, and the film plays out as an appealingly anarchic throwback to that era while also subverting some of its worst rom-com cliches. The obsessive, weirdo fangirl is given her time to shine without needing a makeover and the man of her dreams, a punk rocker, is totally here for it.
Serial arsonist and frontman Simon (Gallner) is on the run from the law when he meets Patty (Skeggs) on her work break from a pet shop. She offers him a place to hide out at her family home and an oddball romance blossoms as they connect over music and wreak clumsy revenge on bullies and employers. Gallner and Skeggs have great chemistry in the lead roles and their dynamic as Patty and Simon, abrasive at first, turns into an adorably sweet relationship.
Comically awkward dinner scenes are scattered throughout, with Rehmeier simultaneously mining humour and revealing details about his characters’ upbringings. From a gross opening scene at a medical trial, where Simon drools and vomits over the generic meal he’s served, to multiple fiery and confrontational dinners, the film deals in the unexpected and revels in the endearing strangeness and eccentric qualities of each familial unit.
Patty and Simon bond over music and inspire each other to engage in a string of rebellious acts. The film’s warmth and devotion towards music is displayed in a soundtrack featuring a combination of established tunes (Mac DeMarco’s, My Kind of Woman) and original songs. Some are even written and performed by the director and cast, offering blistering punk anthems and poetic earworms. The title song is performed and written by Canadian punk/hardcore band Disco Assault, with lead vocals from Gallner and a melodic banger called Watermelon (beautifully sung by Skeggs) perfectly fuses together the chaotic and tender nature of the film and its lovable misfit characters.
It’s this winning combination of unwavering dedication to weirdness, blazingly great lead performances, fiercely original songs and characters who fully embrace the outsider spirit that makes Dinner in America destined for (and deserving of) future cult classic status. Similar to the films that inspired it, like Ghost World and Buffalo ’66, Rehmeier delivers a loud and unapologetic skewering of suburban America – with a killer soundtrack.
Dinner in America is now available on Arrow UK, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription.