Prince Avalanche Reviews
Alvin is a 30-something year-old bachelor. He takes life very seriously, probably too seriously for the good of his own mental health. He has a girlfriend but one would suspect that their relationship has never made it past first base. As a favour to his girlfriend but possibly just to impress her, he hires her rather irresponsible younger brother, Lance, to join him painting the road. While Alvin sees the work as an opportunity to clear his head, Lance sees it as easy money, which he plans to spend on beer and women on his weekends off. As much as Alvin considers himself to be an erudite and responsible guy who is ideal marriage material, Lance considers himself to be a party boy who is just out to get laid. But neither is either. They just don't realise it.
Imagine the original ODD COUPLE, Felix and Oscar, put them in a post-fire ravaged Texas backwoods and you've got Alvin and Lance. Alvin is fussy while Lance is a bit of a slob. Alvin relishes the solitude, which gives him a chance to listen to his German language cassette tapes and write flowery letters to Lance's sister (it's pre-digital 1988, after all). Lance crudely admits that being out in nature gets him horny. Their self-imposed exile gives them an opportunity to get to know each other better and they end up bickering about almost everything. Once they are done ripping off each other's fašade, the only place left to attack is themselves... and they don't like what they find. Alvin realises that he's not as cool as he thought he was while Lance admits that he has become too "old and fat" to compete with the younger guys.
PRINCE AVALANCHE is a very slow film but it keeps moving only just fast enough to hold our attention thanks to the acting of its two stars. Paul Rudd, who is well known for his comedies, is superb as the pathetically stiff, Alvin, who probably just needs a good lay. Emile Hirsch, who looks like a young Jack Black, has already starred in a few heavyweight films (MILK; INTO THE WILD) in his young career. He, though, is thoroughly convincing as the clueless buffoon, Lance.
The story is based on the 2011 Icelandic film, EITHER WAY, which won six awards both at home and at various film festivals in Europe. I can see this film being set in Iceland's barren wilderness. When there's not much to look at, you've got to start getting real with yourself. Alvin and Lance are not really likeable characters but their awkwardness invokes sympathy. As they both come to the understanding of who they really are, you want them to succeed and move forward in life.
"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.
Emile Hirsh is especially good as Lance, the brother of the woman his boss, Alvin (played by Paul Rudd) is dating. At first they don't talk much to each other, but eventually they start sharing stories and have to deal with changes happening in their personal lives. Lance is a little slow while Alvin is a little arrogant, leading to some very funny conflicts.
Side stories about a woman sorting through the remains of her burned down home and a truck driver who keeps arriving at the right place at the right time with booze add a little bit of surrealism to the otherwise naturalistic movie. Not much happens, but by the end of the movie, the two men hopefully have a better understanding about their own lives and can deal with the issues they face.