Film: House of America Marc Evans (15)

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Indy Lifestyle Online
You know you are in capable hands right at the beginning of House of America, when the film cuts from the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man", in which Lou Reed sings "Here he comes all dressed in black", to a shot of a young man in a banana-yellow cagoule astride a motorbike that refuses to do anything more than splutter pathetically. Few film- makers choose to exploit the tension and humour that a conflicting use of sound and image can create, but the first-time director Marc Evans perfectly captures the gulf between fantasy and reality with that single, witty juxtaposition.

Many people find it hard to stay with a film once the characters begin to infuriate them, and you may find you have this problem with House of America. Certainly there are characters here with whom you wouldn't want to share a planet, let alone a room - like the grotesque Mam (Sian Phillips), who makes Joan Crawford look like Doris Day, and tries to cramp the dreams of her offspring, Sid (Steven Mackintosh), Gwenny (Lisa Palfrey) and Boyo (Matthew Rhys). But do stay with the picture: as well as reinventing south Wales as a sparse, surreal no-man's land where even David Lynch might feel uncomfortable, it bravely trades in metaphors and symbolism at the risk of alienating those viewers unaccustomed to joining the dots without supervision. There's also a real star in the making in the shape of the magnetic young actor Matthew Rhys. Boyo may essentially be a conformist, but your eyes can't help drifting toward Rhys. He makes stoicism mesmerising.

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