David Gordon Green’s latest film casts Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch in two very different roles in a very different kind of movie.
Prince Avalanche follows two road workers, fixing up a highway in an area that was ravaged by forest fires. It’s the summer of 1988, and Alvin (Rudd) and Lance (Hirsch) are not just trying to get along but do their job and manage with the loneliness of being in such an isolated area. Alvin is a more serious character, wanting to take on responsibilities and enjoying the perks—if you’d called them perks—of isolation. Lance on the other hand is shallower, only looking out to have fun, enjoy women and avoid any responsibility. Through their time working together, Alvin and Lance learn a little about each other but even more about themselves.
I can’t say I’ve exactly enjoyed David Gordon Green’s past works, but I will say without a doubt that Prince Avalanche is his best directorial work yet. Gordon Green and his DP do an amazing job of capturing the atmosphere of the narrative’s setting. There are some takes in this movie that I really loved and stayed with me long past seeing the film.
However, the falling grace for Prince Avalanche is the script. Between Alvin and Lance’s middling quibbles and self-actualizing conversations, none of it managed to get to me. It was hard to relate to either of these characters, especially when these “meaningful” conversations (which were mostly about their love lives) often felt unauthentic. I don’t blame any phoniness on the actors though. It’s clear that Rudd is trying his best with such an awkward and oddly humorous character like Alvin. I appreciate seeing him tackle a more serious role, and there are several scenes in particular that impressed me. Hirsch unfortunately has an unbearable character, but he makes the most of it.
Most of the film feels directionless, and along with its other flaws, it gets boring several times throughout. Yet, I can’t deny that Prince Avalanche has a charm about it, which I believe is mostly credited to the unique setting and Rudd’s performance. I wish it was a better, more well-rounded film because it had a few striking scenes which showed off all the potential this movie had.
Even with the unfocused narrative, I still think that Prince Avalanche is worth a watch when it hits Netflix or Redbox. Fans of David Gordon Green and Paul Rudd will likely be interested to see something new and different from these two talents.
Prince Avalanche opens in select theaters and will be available on iTunes & VOD on August 9th.