Synopsis: Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind
This was the first of a Paul Rudd double header this weekend (the other being Anchorman 2), and it was the more enjoyable performance, arguably the more enjoyable movie overall. Made for a meager $750,000 over 15 days it is as intimate an experience as it’s production constraints would suggest, consisting of only 4 principal cast members throughout the entire 90 minutes.
Set in the summer sun soacked backwaters of 1988 rural Texas, Prince Avalanche centers around the unlikely blossoming friendship of stern, arrogant, self assured Alvin (Paul Rudd) and flaky, uncertain, wayward Lance (Emile Hirsch) as they paint fresh lines on roads recently ravaged by wildfire. Lance also happens to be the younger brother of Alvin’s distant girlfriend, making for an uneasy conflict of interest at times. As they journey slowly and methodically down the hot asphalt, navigating through the charred forest Alvin feels it his duty to school Lance in the ways of being a man through reading, meditation and the subtle difference between loneliness and being alone. While Lance just wants to get his little man squeezed. Eventually they realise the things that unite them outweigh those that divide them.
Written and directed by David Gordon Green it is an unusually understated and gentle experience from someone who has forged a career out of brash, loud comedies (Pineapple Express, Your Highness, The Sitter and several episodes of Eastbound & Down). Filmed largely in secret during the spring of 2012 and scored by Texas indie prog darlings Explosions In The Sky it is by Green’s own admission the film he wanted to make to rediscover his indie roots. Which for the most part works, with the script never wandering to far into noodley naval gazing. Although certain more surreal parts fall flat, particularly the uncertain presence of a recurring female character that feels unnecessarily ambiguous.
The central pairing of Rudd and Hirsch works perfectly though, with Rudd delivering a performance just the right side of smug and just the right amount of humble. Hirsch though feels the more natural of the two, regressing to a young Jack Black-esque role of the stocky, long haired stoner who doesn’t quite understand what it’s all about.
Conclusion: Treads the line between indie and too-indie just right, with a captivating pair of central performances. Little seen on release, one to catch on streaming if you can.
Cast: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance LeGault