Paul Rudd and Emile Hersch star in this imperfect comedy oddity that deserves an audience
Despite its A-list leads, the eighth feature from director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) marks a return to his indie roots and was even produced on the QT. Prince Avalanche is based on the 2011 Icelandic film Either Way, a road movie featuring a whole lot of road as its idiosyncratic duo both travel and work on a country highway.
The year is 1988 and the setting is Bastrop, Texas. Paul Rudd plays Alvin, a man who's unafraid to ‘reap the rewards of solitude’ and is perhaps a little too comfortable in his own company. Working alongside his girlfriend's slacker brother Lance (Emile Hirsch), Alvin dismissively writes of him, ‘sometimes I wonder if he is learning-disabled or has a bad disease’.
This two-man crew are repainting highway stripes and hammering posts in the aftermath of a forest fire. At the outset, Alvin is quite literally a happy camper, an outdoorsman who passes the time with ease, letter-writing, fishing and listening to German language tapes. Lance however longs for some action and, in-between grizzling, tells Alvin about his mostly disastrous encounters with women. And so the men drink, paint, learn German, encounter odd locals, and drive each other crazy.
Green (who won the Silver Bear for Best Director at Berlinale 2013 for his work here) melds eccentricity and idiocy with something more soaringly spiritual and Malick-esque: a roving camera and an affinity with the ravaged yet returning nature which is frequently delightful, though not always a natural fit with the film's comedy. Rudd and Hirsch are well cast and nicely matched (their drunken warbling is a particular highlight) and there's a stirring score from David Wingo and Explosions in the Sky. Funny, sad and sometimes strange, Prince Avalanche is an imperfect oddity that deserves an audience.
Limited release from Fri 18 Oct.