‘Dinner In America’

Fantasia International Film Festival has a killer line up this year. ‘Dinner In America‘ is by far one of the best films on their 2020 program and will definitely end up in my top 10 films of the year. This is for the misfits!

Simon (Kyle Gallner – ‘Ghosts of War’) and Patty (Emily Skeggs – ‘Love You To Death’) don’t really fit in, because no one is making any effort to listen or connect with them. Pyromaniac Simon, who lives every day like it’s the last one, doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. He’s always ready to fight whomever looks at him the wrong way. That kind of attitude often gets him into trouble. Socially awkward Patty on the other hand, is a quiet young woman who gets made fun of for her appearance by strangers. Her parents are overprotective, so when she finally gets to be alone in her bedroom, she rocks out to music as some sort of escapism.

When these two meet, they unexpectedly start to enjoy each other’s company and find common interests that create unique moments. Together they go on a journey of self discovery, looking far past first impressions and finding new ways to grow as a person and as an undeniably powerful duo. We get to witness their beautiful relationship blossom in the sweetest way possible, due to the realistic and relatable moments they both go through.

Adam Rehmeier‘s direction and writing seem a bit over the top at first, but this indie filmmaker knows exactly what he’s doing. He fine-tunes his vision to perfection with interesting wide shots, quick editing, witty and foul-mouthed dialogue, and a sick soundtrack. His screenplay is one of the strongest I’ve seen all year. ‘Dinner In America‘ could easily be compared to films such as ‘Napoleon Dynamite‘, ‘Superstar‘ and ‘PEN15‘, but it goes so much deeper than that. Where those other comedies excel at being funny, Rehmeier takes his film to the next level by exploring an underlying layer of drama and romance that hit me in the face like a dead cat. Yes, I shed a tear or two.

Gallner is mostly to thank for that. What a powerhouse! It’s baffling how he’s not a bigger name – the man can act. He brings emotion, heart, facial expressions, attitude, confidence to his performance and makes it all look so easy. Skeggs is just as good, if not better. The Tony-nominated actor takes it up several notches while showing a sense of vulnerability and poise. Gallner and Skegg’s chemistry is believable and off the charts.

Dinner In America‘ is the fucking tits! If you decide to watch one film on FIFF’s program, it better be this one. This crazy coming-of-age romantic punk dark comedy is by far one of the most heartfelt and unique films I’ve seen all year. I can’t wait to watch it again. Stay punk.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘You Wouldn’t Understand’

Fantasia International Film Festival presents ‘Dinner In America‘ with Trish Harnetiaux‘s very first solo directed short film, ‘You Wouldn’t Understand‘, in which an idyllic picnic of one is upended after the arrival of a stranger. There isn’t much more I can tell you without spoiling the bizarre turn of events. I guess, you just wouldn’t understand it anyway…

Eleonore Oppenheim‘s dramatic waltz-like score sets the tone of Man’s (Anthony Arkin – ‘Succession‘) lavish picnic in a meadow. As soon as the Angelic Guy (Jacob A. Ware – ‘Windblown’) shows up, the score dramatically changes to a more ominous sound, alarming us of imminent danger. Oppenheim’s music works so well with the dialogue that turns from weird to straight up off the wall. Arkin and Ware do their best to make a zany impression, which isn’t easy when you’re only getting a couple of minutes to do so without feeling the need to overact to the point of being simply silly.

You Wouldn’t Understand‘ is clearly inspired by ‘The Twilight Zone‘, giving the audience an unsettling feeling, making you distrust every word and movement on screen. Harnetiaux delivers an unexpected piece of ironic other-worldly storytelling, starring two endearing actors who leave a grin on your face. Give us more, please.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dinner In America‘ and ‘You Wouldn’t Understand‘ have their Quebec premiere and world premiere respectively at Fantasia International Film Festival, on 21 August.

Fantasia International Film Festival Review – ‘Dinner In America’ & Short Film ‘You Wouldn’t Understand’

‘Dinner In America’

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), August 21, 2020. Running time: 106 min.

PRODUCTION: An Atlas Industries, Bee-Hive Productions, PSH Collective, Red Hour Films production. Producers: John Covert, David Hunter, Ross Putman, Sam Slater, Ben Stiller, Nicholas Weinstock. Executive producers: Bull Blumenthal, Stephen Braun, Scott Carmel, Eric B. Fleischman, Jorge Garcia Castro, Karl Herrmann, Robert Kravis, Brandon Lichtenstein, Hannah Marks, Duncan Montgomery, Sean King O’Grady, Haroon Saleem, Kerem Sanga, Jack Selby, Bill Stertz.

CREW: Director/screenplay/editor: Adam Rehmeier. Cinematography: Jean-Philippe Bernier. Music: John Swihart.

WITH: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Griffin Gluck, Pat Healy, Sidi Henderson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Sean Rogers, Lea Thompson, David Yow, Nick Chinlund.

‘You Wouldn’t Understand’

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), August 21, 2020. Running time: 9 min.

PRODUCTION: A Steel Drum In Space production. Executive producers: Trish Harnetiaux, Jacob A. Ware.

CREW: Director: Trish Harnetiaux. Screenplay: Trish Harnetiaux, Jacob A. Ware. Editor: Anthony Arkin. Cinematography: John Gebhart. Music: Eleonore Oppenheim.

WITH: Anthony Arkin, Jacob A. Ware.

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