A mixed bag of drugs, arson and awkward family dinners, all wrapped up in punk attitude and music, Dinner In America is one hell of a slice of Americana. Though it doesn’t feel guaranteed from the beginning, there is also an unusually sweet romance that blossoms through the screams and punches, as well as a fantastic song that you’ll have in your head long after the credits roll.
Currently avoiding the police and trying to make money through drug trials for his punk band, lead singer Simon by chance meets social misfit Patty. She agrees to help him and in return, he has to take her to music gig, in amidst all the chaos the two of them cause. Together they make a highly unlikely pair on the surface but actually share a passion for punk music and rebellion.
There are plenty of films with classic pairings and genre films that go down the buddy road trip route or the unlikely romance that can sometimes feel too obvious. Dinner in America twists all of this and manages to create a fantastically entertaining and heartfelt story than spans a couple of days but feels like lifetime. Both Patty and Simon have been missing something and unwittingly have each other’s connecting piece without knowing it. Kyle Gallner and Emily Skeggs as Simon and Patty have weird electric chemistry that is great to watch. Both seem to have difficulty expressing emotions but through music, they can with ease. Whether it’s in Patty’s pop lyrics in her explicit letters to John Q Public or when Simon is yelling into the mic with a sweaty balaclava. It’s all quite sweet really.
From the outset it is clear that Simon aka John Q Public is unbelievably cool, despite his arsonist tendencies. He cares very little about everything and everyone around him and for most of the film is an absolute mystery. His real introduction to the story is not through the drooling mess in the opening shot but instead a short while later when he is having dinner with a family of a girl, he literally just met that day. The way this particular dinner plays out is mirrored later when he meets Patty and her family. Luckily, they fair better when they meet him. As a cause and effect for destruction and chaos, we discover his real for his rebellion and disgust later on, of which on Patty is witness. It feels as if Simon doesn’t like to share his entire person and background with anyone, not even his band, that is, until he meets Patty. She is the unexpected saviour in his life, whether he liked to admit this or not.
Usually with stories about outsiders and those on the edge of society, or at least, those who are considered this, go a certain way, but Dinner in America is full of random surprises and unexpected turns. Flipping from disliking the characters to absolutely loving them the next, the rollercoaster ride of a film is what we’ve been missing at the movies.
DINNER IN AMERICA is streaming on ARROW and available to buy or rent on all digital platforms in the UK from 1st June