Written, Directed & Edited by: Adam Carter Rehmeier
Starring: Kyle Gallner and Emily Skeggs
Cinematographer: Jean-Philippe Bernier
Producers: Ben Stiller, Nicky Weinstock, Ross Putman, David Hunter, John Covert, and Sam Slater
The 2021 virtual Reel Love Film Festival has officially kicked off its opening night to celebrate romance and human connection. Adam Carter Rehmeier, most known for his work as a cinematographer in The Bunny Game (2011) and Jonas (2013), debuted his fast-paced, aggressive and ever-punkish Dinner in America.
A comical clash of personalities and interactions that are painfully cringey at times, this chaotic romance follows punk rocker Simon (played by Kyle Gallner) on the run from the police and the innocent Patty (Emily Skeggs) who happens to be his biggest fan. As their paths begin to intertwine, their differences become apparent. But together, this dynamic duo become an unstoppable set of troublemakers whose relationship blossoms into a heartwarming yet off-the-charts romance that is bound to generate the biggest buzz of the festival.
Rehmeier’s feature takes place in the midwestern suburbs in America, where we find Simon jump-starting his troublesome journey. As he interacts with multiple suburban families throughout the film’s first act, it becomes all too obvious just how chaotic this ride will be. But by the film’s end, the chaos turns into a tale of love, acceptance and epic fun, which audiences will completely adore.
Dinner In America is served with a side of anarchy and brutality, but the film’s main course is surprisingly sweet. I was intrigued by the first act and its pacing, but as soon as our main characters’ worlds happen to collide, the film begins to quickly pick up speed, leading to an offbeat path to an awkward yet heartwarming love story. Because it isn’t just Simon’s music that’s punk. The union of Simon and Patty breaks just about all the rules when it comes to dating and love. But when it’s all said and done, this set of troublemakers can’t help but to be themselves not matter what others think.
In a roller coaster of events, our unlikely lovers bond through bizarre schemes and scenarios. The audience won’t help but root for these two contradicting characters and their clashing auras. Despite its chaotic nature, the feature balances its romantic aspect without compromising its punk aesthetics, much like the film’s naive yet punk at heart character Patty.
There is much to appreciate about this film from the acting (especially from Kyle Gallner), to the character’s awkward and bold dialogues, and genuinely heartwarming and cute first date scenes. But perhaps my favorite thing about the film is that it refuses to follow the overall stereotypes and norms behind its genres of drama and romantic comedy, which is arguably the epitome of punkness. At their cores, Simon and Patty are complete opposites yet they are a strong force together. But what greater force is capable of uniting two contrasting personalities than the power of music and the desire to just be yourself no matter what? Now that is truly punk.