House Of America Review

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Siblings Sid (Mackintosh) and Gwenny (Palfrey) yearn to break away from their depressed quarry town and live the hellbent lifestyles of their icons, Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson. With no work and only a fruitcake mother (Phillips) to attend, their incestuous relationship mirrors that of their long-lost father who, as legend has it, took off to find the American dream some years ago.


Somewhere between Tom Jones and male voice choirs, the Welsh seem to be crowbar movies onto the British public. However, where Twin Town revelled in taffy joie de vivre and Darklands went for paganism, this bleak adaptation of Edward Thomas' sizzling stage play wallows in the misery of all things Welsh.

The more specific details of Evans' debut direction are superb - especially the dazzling array of images, and the acting is sound. Yet on a broader level, this flails; despite its ironic humour there seems little on show for young filmgoers to connect with. The Beat Generation references seem dated, the Welsh countryside which our heroes roam with bottles of vodka and mummy's prescription tablets (very hellbent) is redundant and the script far too static.

The only relief comes when the film stops the psychobabble to show the colourful townsfolk going about their day to the dulcet tones of the Velvet Underground. Which all goes to prove that a National Lottery-funded film about chasing the American dream in a tiny South Wales mining community is not the most auspicious of starts for the revitalised British Film Industry to try to sell abroad.

If you look very closely, this has quite a bit going for it, but you'll have to get past some very dull broad strokes first.