If you’re at Fantasia, and you feel the need to watch a loveletter to punk, I hope someone has told you that the film for that, is Dinner in America.
In 2015, TIFF presented both Green Room and The Devil’s Candy (which later played at Fantasia in 2016), and I had referred to both as the most Punk film at the fest, and the most Metal film at the fest. I think Green Room have some competition for the most Punk film.
And it absolutely makes sense. Director and writer Adam Carter Rehmeier writes in a statement about his film, “Dinner In America is my loveletter to the early ’90s punk scene in Lincoln, Nebraska.” He goes on to talk about how he spent about twenty years making music in basements, and apartments. It’s this DIY experience that eventually even influenced his filmmaking style – and this is the first time he’s able to instill that into his film, making it into part of the spirit of the film as well.
The film follows Simon (Kyle Gallner), the secret front-man of a punk band who’s on-the-lam who runs into an old classmate, Patty (Emily Skeggs), a shy and socially-awkward 20-year-old who’s obssed with Simon’s band. But unknowingly to her, because Simon’s identity in the band is hidden with a stage name, as well as a ski mask.
As the two finally meet after Patty helps hide Simon from the cops, the two go on a very interesting journey together as they each learn and adapt from one another. Patty is more subdued, and even gullible as her old boss walks over a little, and Simon goes from 0-100, swearing and telling anyone off who would listen. Together, they’ll ignite fires and revolutions with Simon’s band and music as their soundtrack plays on, and their song plays on.
There’s an original song in the film, and the song was created by Kyle and Emily, and was done so even before a single scene had been rehearsed. This helped both Kyle and Emily figure out their characters relationship, and then was reversed engineered for their performances.
Which, makes for a very great and fascinting film and performances. The two (and the huge supporting cast like Lea Thompson, Pat Healy, Hannah Marks, and Mary Lynn Rajskub) does such a great job adding to the unique and strange tone that can be found in this film. Both being agressive and in-your-face, but with a beating heart, and a heavy beating soundtrack.