Dinner in America (2020)

Dinner in America
Director: Adam Rehmeier
Writer: Adam Rehmeier
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Pat Healy, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Prediger
Part of: surprise movie at the SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2020

Content Note: ableist and homomisic slurs

Patty’s (Emily Skeggs) life is pretty much stuck. She lives with her parents who still treat her like a child, works at a pet store, and whenever she runs into the local high school boys, they bully her. Her only escape is the music of a local punk band and her fantasies about the singer who always wears a mask. When she runs into Simon (Kyle Gallner), a punk who is constantly in conflict with pretty much everyone around him, the two connect quickly and soon realize that life may be better together.

Dinner in America is an absolute gift of a film, even though the slurs get a bit out of hand. But at its core it’s a beautiful, romantic story about self-acceptance and love that is so much more wholesome than it appears at first. I really adored it.

The film poster showing Simon (Kyle Gallner) and Patty (Emily Skeggs).

Just to get this out of the way: the film keeps throwing r*t*rd and and f*gg*t around like there’s no tomorrow, and while the former is challenged and really only said by the bullies in the film, the latter is Simon’s go-to curse and he barely gets any pushback for using it, and never really stops, either. I really wish the film had made do without it, especially since I’m a queer person myself.

But apart from that, I absolutely loved the film. I really did. The love story between Patty and Simon is pure sugar (Skeggs and Gallner are simply fantastic) and their radical acceptance and protectiveness of each other is a beautiful thing to behold. I also loved that the movie left open whether Patty actually has a learning disability, or if that’s something that’s said about her because she’s strange. It doesn’t matter anyway, she is who she is and Simon loves her for it, and so she learns to love herself and dammit, it’s like a whole entire therapy session.

Simon (Kyle Gallner) and Patty (Emily Skeggs) lying in the grass, observing something.

It’s also funny as hell and the pacing is great, fitting for the punk vibe. And that punk vibe is not only present in the music (I am still waiting for the beautiful, awesome, wonderful Watermelon-song to be released in a way that I can listen to it everyday), but in the entire subversive nature of the film. It’s absolutely glorious.

All in all, it’s a film that left me absolutely elated. I pretty much bounced out of the cinema and I can only recommend watching it if you need something good in your life. And in the year of the pest, who doesn’t?

Simon (Kyle Gallner) and Patty (Emily Skeggs) at dinner with Patty's family.

Summarizing: instant favorite.

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