Coming from a Welsh background I couldn’t help but be interested in the latest film from Gruff Rhys (lead singer of The Super Furry Animals), American Interior.
The film focusses on the life of a young Welshman, by the name of John Evans, who decides to travel across to America in 1792 in search a fabled tribe of Welsh speaking Native Americans. Whilst from the outside this may not seem like the most interesting of premises for a film, the finished product is actually a brilliant mix of American road movie, history lesson, and concert/PowerPoint show.
Whether or not Evans is actually a distant relative of Rhys is something people can discuss in their own time, but his story is one that has stuck with Gruff for years since he heard about it and in this he takes it upon himself to follow in Evans’ footsteps across to the States to see how much of story is actually true and how much has just become legend over the years. He manages to bring in experts from both side of the pond in to discuss the life of John Evans and what his life was actually like at the time. It is through these interviews that we learn that this poor boy from a religious family managed to get caught up in all sorts of adventures during his short life; from trying to map the Missouri river by boat to dueling for his life against a Canadian and almost single handedly making sure that the Spanish kept control of America.
The film really is a love letter to the life of John Evans and whilst his name may be the thing of legend to some Welsh families, he is often forgotten by many. It just goes to show the power and determination some individuals have when they put their mind to task, whether that is something as crazy as travelling to a whole new country to try and track down a race of people that may or may not have existed 5 centuries ago. Saying that, during the course of the movie, we are introduced to a whole host of other characters who are trying to keep their own cultures alive, in particular the last native speaker of the Mandan tribe; this was a tribe that Evans thought he was supposed to find.
The whole thing is beautifully shot in monochrome with the occasional highlight and splash of colour in certain shots and as I mentioned before it is intercut with scenes from different shows that Rhys played whilst travelling across America researching his story. It is nice to see how the story evolves as his show does, and it is all presented with Rhys’ own style of deadpan approach. Fans of his music will love the new songs, and I’m sure it will encourage a whole flock of fans to his musical stylings.
I really cannot praise this movie enough. It is funny, moving, passionate, and above all highly entertaining. I really do recommend going to check it out when it is released in cinemas in the UK on May 9th, the US is still waiting for a release date (sorry!)
For more information about the film, which is being released in conjunction with a CD, book and mobile app, go check out the website here