Review: Prince Avalanche (Sundance 2013)
REVIEW: At last- David Gordon Green is back in the art-house. Anyone who knows his films knows that there are two Gordon Green's. There's the auteur behind movies like GEORGE WASHINGTON, ALL THE REAL GIRLS, and SNOW ANGELS, while the other makes studio comedies like THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, YOUR HIGHNESS, and THE SITTER. To me- PRINCE AVALANCHE feels like 80% arthouse Green, 20% comedy Green.
PRINCE AVALANCHE is really the story of two relationships. One is the one between Lance and Alvin- with the significantly younger Lance only having this job due to the intervention of Alvin, who's dating his sister. The other is Alvin's relationship to the solitude of nature, with it being strong enough that it's led to his taking a whole summer to work the roads without ever being tempted to go in to town. But- if he's as in love with Lance's sister as he says, why is he so insistent on finding every possible excuse he can to take off on his own?
PRINCE AVALANCHE is a particularly strong role for Rudd. In some ways Alvin is very much a classic Rudd creation, with him injecting a lot of humor into the part. But- where Rudd is known for his sarcasm, Alvin is probably the least sarcastic part he's ever played. Rudd's especially strong during an extended sequence following him as he examines the desolated landscape. This is a classic Green art-house moment- beautifully acted especially once Rudd meets an old woman who lost her home, and combs through the debris hoping to salvage something from her past.
Hirsch has the more broadly comic part, with his clueless Lance being an interesting contrast to his part in INTO THE WILD. Unlike Alvin, Lance hates isolation, and heads back to town at every opportunity he gets to try and score with girls. Hirsch's chemistry with Rudd is excellent, with the two constantly teetering back and forth from contempt, to respect and friendship. Hirsch's goofy Lance also gives Green the opportunity to have a little fun with the eighties time period, with him coming back from a trip to town with a calculator watch that he proudly claims cost him “thirty-nine dollars”, and a lab-coat, which he thinks is the height of fashion.
PRINCE AVALANCHE is essentially a two-hander, but in addition to the old lady Rudd encounters, Lance LeGault makes a big impression as an ornery trucker who occasionally checks in on the guys and brings them moonshine. Otherwise, this is entirely Rudd and Hirsch's show.
Obviously, PRINCE AVALANCHE is a film that's probably going to play to a smaller audience than THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, but then again- there's very few directors that can do what Green does at his best. This is like Terrence Mallick with a sense of humor. It's funny in a genuine, well-earned way- while simultaneously being absolutely gorgeous to behold, with the visuals being nicely complimented by a score by indie band Explosions From the Sky and David Wingo. It's a lovely little film- and one that will be hopefully be received warmly by both Green's art-house and mainstream fans.