REVIEW: “Prince Avalanche”

PRINCE

Good luck trying to classify David Gordon Green’s “Prince Avalanche”. Green directed and wrote the screenplay for this odd little independent film that is part drama, part comedy, and part offbeat character study. It was inspired by an Icelandic picture titled “Either Way” only here it takes place in an isolated woodland area in Texas. It’s a 2013 film that didn’t get much press and brought in less than $200,000 during its very limited release. But now word of the film is starting to ease out and that’s a good thing.

Paul Rudd plays the starched, tightly wound Alvin. He’s a highway worker who hires his girlfriend’s airheaded but well-intentioned brother Lance (Emile Hirsch) to help him paint yellow traffic lines on a long stretch of isolated roads. The roads wind through a forest area that has recently been ravaged by wildfires. This is the dreary, near apocalyptic landscape where the entire film takes place. We just follow along watching Alvin and Lance go through their workday. We sit with them at their camp enjoying a plate of grilled fish and coffee. The story is truly that simple but Green is quite clever in how he opens up these characters to his audience. It’s amazing what all we pick up just by listening to their many conversations.

AVALANCHE

There are a number of pleasant but telling scenes early in the film. It becomes clear that Alvin and Lance are distant. In many ways they’re very different people and they obviously don’t have a longstanding relationship. Watching the slow-moving male bonding is good fun and it tosses in several well-conceived laughs. But it also connects us to these characters so that we are invested once things get rough. And they do get rough. The two personalities clash and some humorous scenes follow. But these problems end up revealing a lot to each one about themselves. That’s when the true meaning of this film surfaces.

This is a slow and meditative story that spends a lot of time on simple observation. Just watching and listening. Both Rudd and Hirsch are fantastic They both unwrap these two characters exposing their charms and faults with great clarity. Alvin is a man who desperately needs to break out of this lonely world he has created for himself. In it he sees what he wants and ignores important elements to life. Lance needs to realize he is no longer a child. He has to grow up and take responsibility. These two very different men with very different problems are actually in a very similar boat.

“Prince Avalanche” is an independent film through and through. David Gordan Green adapts and directs this light but crafty picture that made me laugh often. But it also develops two really good lead characters who despite their eccentricities are very human in more regards than you may think. This is a tightly made film that has heart and humor and it’s able to deliver it in a way that most bigger modern films can’t. I really appreciate that.

VERDICT – 4 STARS

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30 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Prince Avalanche”

    • Thanks so much for taking time to read and share some comments. This really was a surprising and well made picture. It’s a small independent film through and through. There’s a really good story at the heart of it and it has a dry wit that I instantly latched onto.

      I hope you’ll give it a shot and if you do please come back and tell me what you think.

    • Thanks man. This was a real treat. It’s nothing grand or monumental but it’s just good storytelling and great character development. Toss in some good humor on the side and you have an enjoyable experience.

    • I definitely recommend it. It is a little slow at times but I found it to be pretty rewarding. I watched it a couple of months ago on Netflix streaming. It should still be there if you’re interested.

    • Definitely watch it. It’s available on Netflix or at least it was a few months ago when I watched it. It’s a very bare movie at first glance but it ends up being a very sharp and well written story.

  1. I’ve come across Prince Avalanche a few times but for some reason I couldn’t muster up any interest in seeing it. I’m slightly intrigued by your high rating here though, so maybe one day I’ll give it a rent Keith.

    • I watched it on Netflix streaming and thought it was pretty good. I watched it a second time and I had an even better impression. It’s a slow burn but I really got into these two unusual characters.

    • It really is an odd little movie. But I couldn’t help it, I was drawn to the dry conversational humor and the characters who are actually deeper then we first may think.

  2. “This is a slow and meditative story” It was definitely slow and although the acting was fine I was very bored by it. Not too much happened really so I couldn’t appreciate that.

    • That’s definitely fair. My wife had the same reaction. I think the reason it works for me is because I found the dry humor to be pretty funny in spots. I also appreciated how the story unfolded the characters and unearthed who they really were.

  3. Yes! Glad you liked this Keith, I thought it was a great little film. The ‘nothing much happens’ genre of film are actually usually my faves. Especially when they have subtle hints of comedy as well. Another Rudd film last year, All is Bright, had a similar impact on me. Not as good as this, mind.

  4. I liked a lot of this one a lot, as well. The characters and performances are top-flight. So is much of Green’s direction.

    I just personally felt the flick ended without resolution. And thereby didn’t resonate.

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed it for the most part. Some have said it didn’t work for them at all and I can understand that. My wife wasn’t crazy about it but I really got into it.

  5. I wasn’t sure about this one. More often than not, I got frustrated by the pair.

    Then as my attention waned, I noticed the striking similarity between Emile Hirsch and Jack Black now. From then on, my attention was gone.

  6. Pingback: » Movie Review – Alvin & The Chipmunks Fernby Films

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