Prince Avalanche Review

Prince Avalanche

If you’re thinking Prince Avalanche is one of those indie films that start out with some subtly out of tune plinky-plonky piano music, coupled with static, artsy shots of the main characters and a deliberate delay in any opening dialogue, then you wouldn’t be wrong.

But that doesn’t deny the understated quality of David Gordon Green’s latest film, a remake of 2011 Icelandic comedy Either Way.

This american version is set in 1988, in the aftermath of unexplained fires which ravaged the Texan countryside the previous year.

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch play Alvin and Lance, a bickering pair of road workers tasked with repainting yellow lines and replanting border posts along the country highways.

Alvin is a bit of a deep thinker and would-be outdoorsman who enjoys the solitude provided by the acres of burnt-out wilderness. His romantic relationship with Lance’s sister is as broken as the lines he paints along the road. Not that he realises it yet.

Hirsch, in all his adolescent irreverence, evokes an early Jack Black in the role of Lance, a young drifter who was essentially conscripted into the job by Alvin in a bid to give his life some direction.

So what’s the plot?

In short, there isn’t one.

This is essentially a road trip flick where the characters don’t really go anywhere.

And it is equally tricky to explain the film’s thematic intentions, as this is the kind of movie where it is best to let it wash over you and everyone takes what message from it they can.

The film chooses instead to primarily focus on the relationship within the characters. Think of it as a bromance falling somewhere between I Love You, Man and Brokeback Mountain.

As such, your enjoyment of the film will largely be governed by how you respond to the main characters.

Fortunately, the chemistry between Rudd and Hirsch is strong, buoyed by a sharp but subtle script.

There are one or two bit parts worth mentioning too, particularly Joyce Payne’s moving turn as a woman who has lost more than just her house in the previous fires.

It should be noted though that fans of Rudd, or indeed those of Green who helmed the likes of The Sitter and Pineapple Express, expecting some lowbrow, joke-a-minute fratpack humour will be disappointed.

The comedy here is as sparse as the on screen foliage, but this actually makes it all the more prevalent when it appears.

Lance’s debrief of his weekend to Alvin is particularly hilarious, as is a characteristically low-key chase scene later in the film.

The landscape is depicted in vivid detail via Tim Orr’s cinematography and, much like the humour, David Wingo and Explosions in the Sky’s score is used sparingly but to great effect.

Prince Avalanche is a more contemplative affair than Rudd and Green’s offerings to date, and definitely worth a watch if you’re feeling a little pensive or just eager to escape the subtle-as-a-sledgehammer approach of the current blockbusters gracing our screens.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2013