Prince Avalanche (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/10/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Engaging and beautifully shot, this is an enjoyably offbeat comedy with a stripped-down script and pair of pitch-perfect comic performances from Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by David Gordon Green, Prince Avalanche is a remake of 2011 Icelandic comedy Either Way, which also, not coincidentally, received a limited release in the UK the same week and is well worth checking out. Set in 1988, the film stars Paul Rudd as moustachioed road worker Alvin, who's taken the job of painting lines along a remote stretch of rural Texas highway in the wake of a devastating forest fire.

Alvin’s assistant is his (unseen) girlfriend's feckless brother Lance (Emile Hirsch) – Alvin got Lance the job in the hopes that it would provide him with some direction in his life, but things don't seem to have worked out the way he planned, and all Lance can think about is getting to go back into town to get laid on his time off. Needless to say, the pair spend most of their time bickering, though things begin to change after both men experience unexpected setbacks.

The Good
Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch (the latter resembling a slimline Jack Black more and more with every film) are both terrific as Alvin and Lance, mining rich comic returns from their contrasting characters - it's a testament to the skill of both actors that you can sympathise with each one in turn, in terms of finding the other one annoying, yet both remain sympathetic and likeable. There's also a delightful supporting turn from Lance LeGault (who sadly died after filming was completed – the film is dedicated to him) as a wisdom-and-booze-dispensing truck driver who passes the two men every so often, and a quietly moving performance from real-life resident Joyce Payne (an addition to the Icelandic film that came about because the filmmakers met her on set) as a woman who lost her house in the fire.

The middle-of-nowhere setting gives the film a Waiting For Godot-style existential comedy feel that works brilliantly. Similarly, the script is filled with funny lines and off-the-wall moments (e.g. Alvin having a little dance), but it's also genuinely moving, particularly the way you gradually realise that Alvin has taken such a remote job (and refuses to spend his weekends in the city, unlike Lance) as a way of avoiding having to deal with any real-life issues back home.

The Great
In addition, the film is stunningly photographed by Green's regular cinematographer Tim Orr, who makes strong use of the ravaged and hauntingly beautiful landscapes (the film was shot in the wake of a recent forest fire). There's also a terrific guitar-based score by David Wingo and Explosions In The Sky that adds to the offbeat atmosphere of the film.

Worth seeing?
Prince Avalanche is a beautifully shot and superbly acted comedy that feels like the perfect intersection between David Gordon Green's early, small-town independent features and his later studio comedies. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Prince Avalanche (15)
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Content updated: 15/12/2017 21:38

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