|Actors (from Left to Right): Emil Hirsch and Paul Rudd|
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
2013, 94 minutes
Rated R for some sexual content
Review by Joshua Handler
Director David Gordon Green has had a really interesting career, as he started with independent dramas, switched to mainstream R-rated comedies like Pineapple Express, and now is back to indie dramedy with Prince Avalanche starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch who turn in superb performances. The film follows Alvin and Lance (Rudd and Hirsch, respectively), two highway repair workers who spend the summer of 1988 working on a secluded Texas highway after wildfires ravage the surrounding forest. Throughout the summer, the two learn about themselves while dealing with relationship issues.
Paul Rudd gives one of his greatest performances as Alvin. Alvin is awkward, introverted, and quiet, quite the opposite of Rudd’s usual roles in Judd Apatow comedies. His performance is subtly beautiful. Emile Hirsch is also fantastic as Lance, a big, clumsy, but kind young man. The acting in this film is without a doubt the high point.
The screenplay, based on the Norwegian film Either Way, is for the most part, very good. The two main characters are fully developed and there is a host of quirky side characters that add much to the charm of this little film. What really stands out with this script is the big heart put in. In one particularly moving scene (one of the most moving and memorable I’ve seen this year), Alvin comes across a woman in a burnt-down house looking for belongings. The woman looks crushed. She is devastated because she cannot find her pilot’s license. Alvin talks to her for a few minutes, then leaves. This haunting scene shows the effects of the fires on the people living in the area and this added a really human touch to the film. I guarantee you will not forget this scene. The story is also unpredictable and witty. While there are many great aspects of the story, there are few problems. The ending is not as satisfying as I would have liked, and (this could also be due to the direction) the pacing is sometimes uneven.
David Gordon Green won the Best Director award at the Berlin Film Festival this year and it isn’t hard to see why. He directed a funny, yet sad, dramedy that also happens to be shot beautifully. The cinematography is largely focused on nature and colored with earth tones, emphasizing the naturalistic aesthetic of the film.
Overall, Prince Avalanche is a very good film, hindered by some minor flaws. It is very worth viewing and is a must-see for fans of Paul Rudd, as this is a really interesting departure from his usual characters. Prince Avalanche misses greatness by a hair.
(a very high) 3/4