Prince Avalanche

Prince Avalanche

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

David Gordon Green returns to the indie backwaters from the comedy mainstream of films such as Pineapple Express and The Sitter with this intimate remake of odd-couple Icelandic film Either Way. But if the subject matter initially seems small - the story of two men forming an unlikely bond as they paint markings on the country roads of Texas - there is also an interesting, I would go so far as to say allegorical, statement being made about man's impact on the environment.

The Avalanche of the title alludes to an unstoppable force of nature and the film also begins with shots of a raging forest fire, along with statistics about the loss of four lives and 3,000 acres of Texas woodland to them in 1988.


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Against this backdrop, the straitlaced Alvin (Paul Rudd), who is striving to learn German, broaden his horizons through solitude and dilligently writes home to his wife every day, has got more than he bargained for in employing his young brother-in-law. Lance (Emile Hirsch) is feckless, dissolute and interested in little more than where his next lay is coming from - "I get so horny out there in nature," he tells Alvin, who in turn, tells his wife in between proclamations of absence making his heart grow fonder that her brother "could quite realistically never amount to much".

As the film progresses, the two of them bicker and bond over the sort of little tragedies and triumphs that make up most people's existence, with Hirsch and Rudd ably steering their characters from happiness to distress to self-doubt and all points in between. All the while, Green hints at the small, yet in its own way devastating, impact they are having on the natural landscape. We see road paint - branded "poisonous" by Alvin after Lance, bored, decides to daub it all over his shoes - tipping into streams. At another point, we see them throw a heap of equipment in a gully while drunk on moonshine. These hints of violence against the natural order give a melancholy underpinning and a level of poignancy to what at first glance may seem like broad comedy with a good dose of slapstick.

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Green also hints at a more mystical element to the characters' interplay, introducing a good ol' boy trucker (Lance LeGault, in his final role before his death), who dispenses hooch and anecdotes - popping up at seemingly just the right moments - while an ethereal old lady (Joyce Payne), who Lance meets picking through the burnt-out ruins of her former home, may be more literally haunting than even she first appears.

The end result is a kind of funny/kind of sad character study that asks questions about our relationships with others and our environment. The line: "Can't we just listen to the silence?" may be delivered for comic effect but there's a suspicion that Green thinks, when it comes to the world we live in, perhaps we should consider doing a lot more of that.

Reviewed on: 18 Feb 2013
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Odd couple comedy about two road workers in the backwaters of Texas.
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Director: David Gordon Green

Writer: David Gordon Green

Starring: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance LeGault, Joyce Payne

Year: 2013

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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