Prince Avalanche

2013

Prince Avalanche

Critics Consensus

A step back in the right direction for director David Gordon Green, Prince Avalanche shambles amiably along with a pair of artfully low-key performances from Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.

82%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 119

52%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,670
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Movie Info

Driven by striking performances from Rudd and Hirsch, Prince Avalanche is an offbeat comedy about two men painting traffic lines on a desolate country highway that's been ravaged by wildfire. Against this dramatic setting, the men bicker and joke with each other, eventually developing an unlikely friendship. Funny, meditative and at times surreal, Prince Avalanche features a score by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo, and was shot by frequent Green collaborator Tim Orr was. Loosely adapted from Either Way, an Icelandic film by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson. -- (C) Magnolia Pictures

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Critic Reviews for Prince Avalanche

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (31)

  • David Gordon Green returns to serious filmmaking with this Waiting for Godot for the All Tomorrow's Parties set.

    Oct 17, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • One of the most intriguing and thoughtful American films of the year.

    Oct 15, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Its absurdist tact won't be for everybody, but there is satisfaction in the nuanced, often-pleasing performances from Rudd and Hirsch as they slowly reveal their characters to both the audience and each other. These two grow on you.

    Aug 23, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's an intimate two-hander with lots of dialogue, humour and poignant revelations, set against a backdrop of rugged woodland beauty.

    Aug 23, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • [A] gently existentialist buddy movie.

    Aug 16, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The performances and ghostly, melancholic atmosphere make it satisfying twist on the male buddy film.

    Aug 15, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Prince Avalanche

  • Sep 18, 2015
    Following a massive forest fire, Alvin(Paul Rudd) and Lance(Emile Hirsch) work at repainting the yellow stripes on the highway. In point of fact, Lance is the younger brother of Alvin's girlfriend. While Alvin works on improving his German for an upcoming vacation with her, Lance goes back to town for the weekend. "Prince Avalanche" may not exactly be a return to form for David Gordon Green and his glory days of poetic lyricism, mainly due to the crude dialogue throughout. Still, there is enough thoughtfulness on display for this to certainly be considered a step in the right direction. Elsewhere, Paul Rudd shows a bit of range for once while Emile Hirsch is content to do a middling Jack Black impression.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 16, 2014
    Well, Edvard Grieg can finally rest in peace, because the son of the Mountain King is finally getting some long-overdue attention. I can't help but look at this film's title and think of "In the Hall of the Mountain King", which in turn makes me think of "In the Court of the Crimson King", which I suppose is a more fitting song to reference, because this film is getting "some" - and I mean "some" - attention for being scored by Explosions in the Sky, and post-rock is more-or-less indie shoegazer hipsters' adorable and, well, often somewhat dull little attempt at full-on progressive rock. No, I like Explosions in the Sky, because even though post-rock has a tendency to meander something fierce, it's pumped to the brim with artistic integrity, which I'm sure must be surprising to you folks who look at this film's poster and don't see anything artistic about it, only a pair of overalls-wearing, hick-looking bums with a truck. To make matters worse, they appear to be right next to the woods, and after "Into the Wild", you would have to be at least a little bit goofy to run the risks involved with hanging out with Emile Hirsch in the woods. Well, stereotypers, this is more-or-less about goofball shenanigans, but it does have enough artistic integrity to earn a post-rock score, and at any rate, this film is the Texan answer to "Either Way", or rather, "Á annan veg", Icelandic, and Explosions in the Sky are a bunch of Texans who wish they were Sigur Rós, so of course they fit. Hey, after "Pineapple Express", "Your Highness" and "The Sitter", all in a row, David Gordon Green is due for some type of an artistic comeback, but he's still bringing along Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch to try and get the pop culture's attention too this film. Ha, good luck with that, Gordo, because no one is going to see this film, and that's a shame, because this film is pretty decent, even though Green has gotten a little rusty in some places after all these years away from filmmaking that requires you to try. Mighty lacking in development, this film drops you right in the middle of its characters' situations, with no immediate background material and even the bare minimum of gradual exposition, although that's not to say that these character's don't feel kind of familiar, both because of the well-rounded elements in characterization, and because of the areas in characterization that are simply too familiar for their own good. Plotting is formulaic in certain key areas, and what characterization there is, while genuine, rather blandly runs into tropes, which is a pretty big problem, considering that this effort relies so much on characters over narrative progression. This plot actually has very few notable beats and relies pretty heavily on mediations upon filler, so the underwhelming natural shortcomings are overwhelming enough when storytelling doesn't get a little too draggy, even in its own intentionally minimalist context, possibly because it has difficult in figuring out what exactly its context is. Art films of this type can be grounded and traditionalist in its storytelling structure, or near-abstract in its meditativeness, or simply somewhere in between, and on the whole, this film falls somewhere in between, but when it breaks in an attempt to flavor up storytelling style with dynamicity, it often jars, particularly when it abandons traditional storytelling methods to devolve into mere meandering meditations upon hardly anything at all, and take on a particularly severe case of dragging, backed by a particularly biting case of atmospheric coldness that admittedly rarely abates. Meanderings and a deliberately steady pacing aggravate enough on paper, and they are made all the more distancing by a certain cold thoughtfulness to David Gordon Green's direction, which is often effective in drawing on depths, but is just as often dull and emphatic of other issues, both natural and consequential. This project started making mistakes when it first drew out its do-little narrative idea, and with its loose grip on engagement value going further shaken by underdevelopment, familiarity and structural inconsistencies, you ultimately end up with an ambitious, but rather underwhelming dramedy. That being said, the final product endears through and through, not just with its thoughtful, if limp storytelling, but with its solid style. I don't reckon the efforts of Tim Orr, David Gordon Green's preferred cinematographer, are all that technically outstanding, but photography is adequately crisp and broad enough to capture a considerable range of morbid beauty to a ruined woodlands setting, whose visually fine celebration is arguably not as aesthetically impressive as, if you will, the film's musical beauty. Composed by David Wingo and somewhat notorious, Austin-based post-rock band Explosions in the Sky, this film's score has lighthearted attributes whose soft perk and subtle playfulness hold a tender heart whose loveliness goes outweighed by more relatively serious compositions, whose soft modern-classical and post-rock soul is where this score really excels with its refreshingly narrative and hauntingly beautiful aesthetic value, which also compliments the immersion value of this art effort's atmosphere. While often pretty quiet, this film relies pretty heavily on its musical elements, and Explosions in the Sky and Wingo, understanding this, go all-out in crafting a remarkably heartfelt and wholly well-realized original soundtrack that not only ranks high among the best scores of 2013, but a particular height in stylistic compliments to substance that are found throughout the final product, which doesn't need to be inspired in style to feel narratively inspired. Do-little, but charming, this film has a good heart to its themes on unlikely bonds and coming to terms with personal flaws, and it goes brought to life by highlights in David Gordon Green's reasonably well-characterized and amusing script, which is itself done justice by highlights in Green's thoughtful direction. Sure, the meditative storytelling is often bland, if not kind of dull, but its tastefulness soaks up enough scripted charm to entertain adequately, while also playing on style and visuals to immerse you into this effort's environment. Onscreen leads Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch further immerse you into this character study with sparkling individual charm and solid chemistry, being grounded, but with enough of the performers' distinctive charisma to craft, for Rudd and Hirsch, unique performances that more-or-less carry the final product. This film relies a lot on its characters, and the portrayers are inspired enough to drive that element of storytelling, whose other elements are generally done enough justice to make a pretty endearing final product, in spite of its heavy blows. When it all comes down, natural shortcomings to a near-do-nothing narrative, backed by underdevelopment, tropes, uneven storytelling styles and limp pacing, bury the final product under underwhelmingness, but through a handsome visual style, outstanding score by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo, charming writing and direction by David Gordon Green, and solid charisma by and chemistry between Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, "Prince Avalanche" endears as a heartfelt meditation on two men bonding and coming to terms with themselves. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jan 05, 2014
    This is a pretty damn good movie with some excellent understated performances from Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. It's really weird seeing, after two failed attempts at broad comedy, how David Gordon Green can step back into something he's comfortable with and completely succeed at it. Perhaps it's not weird, but it's definitely a welcome change from what he did with The Sitter and Your Highness The film tells the story of Alvin and Lance and how they come to bond with each other while painting traffic lines on a highway that's been completely destroyed by wildfire. The movie is really well-written with some really subtle character development. It's clear that Alvin and Lance are both lonely as shit and the way they act, Alvin always being away from his girlfriend all the time work and Lance using his weekends to get laid are done as a way in order to avoid facing their real problems. Alvin is always away on work because if he sticks around his girlfriend might see that he's actually a really boring person to be with, this is something that Alvin even says. Well he tells Lance that he's not fun to be around, not that he's afraid his girlfriend will dump him because he's boring. And Lance uses sex as a way to avoid the fact that he's getting older and he still hasn't matured and still hasn't found a steady job. But the way the film does this isn't as obvious, so the film requires you to think a little bit about why they act the way they act and how those differences, in turn, end up strengthening their bond. As mentioned, the acting is absolutely excellent. Understated and low-key are perfect words to describe it. There's also this heartbreaking scene where Alvin meets a woman whose house burned down in the fire and she's telling him about how she's dealt with her house burning down and it's so well-done. It's almost as if they got someone whose house really burned down in a fire and asked her to talk about her experience. For all I know, that's what they did. But this was my favorite scene in the movie, it perfectly captures the heartbreak one must feel to know that the house you built your life in was gone. It was an exceptional scene. There's also this surreal aspect to the film as Alvin and Lance are the only people you ever see in this highway. Well there's the truck driver and the lady whose house burned down, but other than that it's only Alvin and Lance. So you could even argue that the lady and the truck driver were actually victims of the fire that consumed this highway. It's just strange that in the whole of the movie, Alvin and Lance only came across these people. So that adds a little bit of intrigue and mystery to the story, but not enough to where it comes at the expense of the meditative and thoughtful storytelling. I really liked this movie a lot and it's a nice return to form for David Gordon Green.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Dec 17, 2013
    David Gordon Green is a director who's work I'm largely unfamiliar with. I've never been drawn to the comedies "Pineapple Express", "Your Highness" of "The Sitter". However, I've heard that he's done some good dramatic material in "George Washington". Before this, the only film I had actually seen, that he was involved in, was Jeff Nichols' "Shotgun Stories" - on which Gordon Green was a producer. That being said, if "Prince Avalanche" is anything to go by, then I reckon I could find some enjoyment from his previous outings, as well as future endeavours that he might be involved in. After a forest fire scorches a whole stretch of Texan landscape, two workmen set about remarking the road. Alvin (Paul Rudd) is the thoughtful, intelligent type while Lance (Emile Hirsch) is only concerned with girls and parties and only got the job because Alvin is dating his older sister. As they set to the monotonous work at hand and struggle to connect with each other, they receive news from back home that the women in their lives are no longer interested in them. This causes them both to assess themselves and the choices they've made in life. Gordon Green's strange little drama is apparently a faithful remake of an Icelandic film called "Either Way" made in... I haven't actually seen that so I have no prior knowledge in making a comparison. That being said, I still found plenty to enjoy here. I've always been partial to, off-kilter, character studies and that's the best way I can describe this bittersweet and unconventional little film. It's one of those pieces that refuses to be pigeonholed and suffice to say it's, at times, strongly meditative and heartfelt, while at others showing a subtle humour and canny observation for the need for human interaction. The characters go nowhere fast and very little happens but, thankfully, the director isn't going anywhere either and is happy to focus on the strained and awkward relationship between two lost and lonely souls that find some solace in each other. A great example of minimalist cinema that's held together by a perfectly pitched Paul Rudd and an overweight Emile Hirsch (looking a little like Jack Black). The two of them are great and hold the film together despite some periodic lulls while cinematographer Tim Orr consistently keeps things interesting in his striking choices of imagery. So much so, that the barren landscape becomes a character in itself. An odd and eccentric little odyssey, about life, loss and rebirth that has some insightful things to say about our connections with past and present. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer

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