American Interior, film review

(12A) Gruff Rhys, Dylan Goch, 92 mins

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The Independent Culture

It is surely not a coincidence that American Interior is released in the same week as Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank. The wonderfully idiosyncratic documentary follows Welsh musician Gruff Rhys (of Super Furry Animals) as he travels across the American heartland with a doll of the 18th-century explorer John Evans as company. Myth has it that Evans had found a tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans descended from Prince Madoc, who is said to have sailed to America in 1170.

Rhys is a droll raconteur who sees the absurdity both in his own quest and that of John Evans before him. At the same time, he is perceptive about Welsh nationalism, yearning for identity and myth-making. The doc includes archive footage of Gwyn Williams, the great Welsh historian who wrote about Madoc, as well as material from Rhys’ lectures and impromptu concerts given along the way. The heavy use of black-and-white gives the film the look of a slightly mannered pop promo but, like the best travelogues, American Interior is engaging, funny and informative.