Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind.
David Gordon Green directs a charming indie about inner-self searching, the hardships of life, and the development of an unlikely relationship between Lance, a chilled, horny, easily distracted youngster and his elder brother-in-law Alvin who is a thousand times more uptight than a generic Ben Stiller character. Two chalk and cheese personalities spend the summer removed from city life, painting a seemingly abandoned highway hugged by wonderful woodland. Prince Avalanche is a two-man show with the occasional pop in from an elderly drunkard truck driver along the journey who provides them with bottles of the hard stuff to ease the monotony of their days and to escape the clouds in their minds.
The relationship between Lance and Alvin at times draws in similarities with Napoleon Dynamite and his brother Kip; two odd balls, a little lost, a little sad, and a little removed from the mainstream. One scene in particular sees the brother-in-laws chase each other round the woods in a pathetic fury of bitch-slapping attempts and ducking and diving in pony jumps following an argument – quite like the floppy hand ‘fight’ in Napoleon D.
Emile Hirsch delivers a completely perfect disinterested and dense young man who needs excitement, a fast-paced life, and all the trimmings that come with a boy his age. He is sort of like a puppy in nature and temperance. He is still growing up (slowly) and has no qualms about having a cheeky wank in the sleeping bag next to his sister’s husband. Wrong. So wrong. He plays this loveable lost soul so convincingly, and while at times his dopiness is irritating, his endearment overrides this. His character really compliments Paul Rudd’s Alvin who at first has a rod stuck so far up ass that it’s poking out his mouth, which slowly retracts as he eases up with the development of their relationship…and with the help of alcohol. Lance and Alvin learn from each other, to be less irresponsible, less blasé, more committed and less stiff, stoic and tense, respectively. Seeing Rudd play this type of character is really refreshing, his diversity as an actor is done justice in Prince Avalanche; steering completely away from the funny guy into something a lot deeper and emotionally orientated.
The directing and cinematography in the film is somewhat breathtaking – so very simple yet inviting. At times I wanted to jump into the serenity on screen and take a breath of that fresh post-fire Texan air. Gordon Green paid close attention to imperfect nature, keeping it real with scraggly looking animals and half eaten flowers that dusted the superb scenery. A fantastic silent shot saw Lance and Alvin driving along their claimed road with the reflection of the trees on the windscreen floating backwards. At this point you feel not only the powerful solitude of such a unique job, but also the tension between the two.
The film is not overly-dialogue focused but the words shared are incredibly well thought out and effective. Less is more in this case. The attention to detail and emotion is great – the audience is really invited to have a mooch around the minds of two simple yet complex characters. It is steady paced throughout; a journey that they take and you feel a part of. Recommended for both indie and non-indie fans – Prince Avalanche is highly enjoyable and has that perfect lazy Sunday vibe about it.
I give Prince Avalanche 7.5 / 10