Jun 152013

Prince Avalanche

It’s surprising who you can become friends with when you are forced to spend time with someone. Prince Avalanche explores the unlikely friendship that forms between two oddball men while they’re installing road markings in an isolated area. Review after the jump.

Alvin (Paul Rudd) and the younger brother of Alvin’s girlfriend, Lance (Emile Hirsch) couldn’t be more different. Alvin is a perfectionist and  stickler for the rules. He likes to think he’s a manly man, someone who can live off the land and get by on the smell of an oily rag. He’s having a tough time with his girlfriend, and isn’t sure where life is heading. Hard labour gives him time to be at peace. Lance on the other hand is a city slicker. He likes girls, he likes booze and he likes parties. But things are stale in the city and he needs to the money. The pair make up a two-man road crew, painting the yellow lines and putting in the posts in a remote area that has recently been devastated by wildfires. In the beautiful, broken landscape the two men are forced to interact, and despite their differences they slowly bond. Isolation gives a man time to think, and these men have things to think about.

Prince Avalanche is a quiet, reflective film. We watch the men deal with the isolation in different ways, and as time passes and trust develops, we see them confide in each other. Filmed on location in Bastrop State Park, which had been devastated by a fire in 2011, the landscape is both haunting and beautiful, and gives the film an almost spiritual feel – aspects of both life and death are evident. This is extremely fitting for two mean who are in a transitional stage in their respective lives – while loves, ideals and even youth may have been lost, there is life ahead. Director David Gordon Green actually found the setting before he had his story. The film is based on an Icelandic film called Either Way, which makes sense when you consider the gloomy, isolated locations such men in that part of the world might work in.

While the film is about two men understanding who they are and where they are going, it is also hilarious. Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch have fantastic chemistry, and the pair deliver perfectly timed comedic performances. From insulting each other, to bonding over bad decisions and lost love, to the most energetic and entertaining drunk montage I think I’ve ever seen, these guys are funny. There is also an ineffable and surprisingly poignant supporting performance given by Lance LeGault (who died not long after the film wrapped), as a local trucker who seems to show up just when the men need someone else to talk to or offer wisdom.

Prince Avalanche is humorous and heart-felt, without being nasty or mean-spirited. This is how you make a comedy which has characters that the audience genuinely care about. We don’t want them to hurt each other for the sake of a laugh; we want them to bond, get drunk and realise that life ain’t that bad after all.


By Sam McCosh

The Facts

Director: David Gordon Green
Writer(s): Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson (original story), David Gordon Green (adaptation)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance LeGault.
Runtime: 94 mintues
Release date(s): USA: August 9 2013