CMW Film Review: Separado! [Dyl “Goch” Jones, Gruff Rhys, 2009]

Toronto – Separado! is the story of Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys’ quest to find some distant relatives.  It’s also kind of about language, the love of music and just music in general. 

Driven by the desire to meet René Griffiths, a Welsh-Argentinian musician who he once saw on the BBC as a kid and then discovered was related to , Gruff travels to Patagonia to trace his family’s lineage there and to play some music along the way. 

So off he goes to Patagonia, armed with an acoustic guitar, various electronic noisemakers, and a motorcycle helmet looking piece of headgear which supposedly teleports him from place to place (Go Go Power Rangers!)  The helmet is one of the odd stylistic choices Griff has made and it suits the film perfectly.  This, along with the bizarre opening reenactment of a tragic horseracing accident and the opening credits done in ’60s/”70s explotation film style, make a great story even more enjoyable.  There are also several musical interludes that are basically little music videos within the film.

And the music is central to this film.  Even though the thrust of the story is about the search for Griffiths and various other family members, in many ways, it’s really about the music.  Another large reason for Griff’s trip was that he had a new album coming out and had to go on tour.  Deciding he was sick of just going to towns where abooking agent or promoter says there will be a good crowd, Gruff goes way off the beaten path, playing shows in various parts of South America.  His shows are often in small community centre type places (and in one case, an open field with an audience of one horse) and it’s amazing to see the audience’s reactions to this Welshman playing his beautiful, bizarre little tunes for them.  People of all ages (and largely Welsh heritage) come out to the shows and all seem to be enjoying themselves.

One of my favourite parts of the movie is when Gruff meets up and collaborates with a musician named Tony, who plays an electronic percussive instrument he built himself.  Even though neither man understands the other, they share the language of music to the point where all they need is to jam and give each other the thumbs up every now and then.  Language itself is another interesting theme of the film, with Gruff switching between Welsh and English in his narration and also seen in  the various Patagonian residents who hold on to their language and heritage despite the fact that I’m sure many of them have never even been to Wales. 

If you are a Super Furry Animals fan, this one is a must see and even if you’ve never heard them before, it’s still pretty much a must see.  Now I just need to find out where to get one of those teleporter helmets.

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Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week, Everything, Movies

2 Responses to CMW Film Review: Separado! [Dyl “Goch” Jones, Gruff Rhys, 2009]

  1. fan

    will check this one out for sure; sounds like the baraka of music films.

  2. Pingback: CMW: 2010 Festival Highlights [Mark] | The Panic Manual

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