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Review: Prince Avalanche

Review: Prince Avalanche


An American film loosely based on an Icelandic film, made by David Gordon Green, of Pineapple Express fame, and starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. With music by Explosions in the Sky and David Winger. Sound like a strange film, and something you think you would have heard of, given the names involved? It is, and it is, but this is definitely something a little different for all involved.

Prince Avalanche finally reached the general populous this month, after opening to the Sundance film festival in January of this year. Directed by David Gordon Green, this is a film with all the quirky-ness of an indie title, but all the cinematographic goodness of a major motion picture. Filmed entirely in secret in Bastrop, Texas, so as to preserve the indie feel of the project, there is very little in the way of a story for Prince Avalanche; it’s not really telling us a tale, as simply allowing us to follow our two characters, Lance (Emile Hirsch) and Alvin (Paul Rudd), through a week in their lives as road line-painters. I say two characters because, for the entire film, bar an elderly couple who have about 15 minutes screen time combined, Alvin and Lance are literally all we have. Them, and their conversations and interactions with each other about their everyday lives, hobbies and plans. So, they’d want to be good, wouldn’t they? Well…. They are, and Paul Rudd especially is on form throughout the 90 minutes. The chemistry feels natural, the humour comfortable and the personalities ebb and flow as we learn more about who they are and why they are where they are in life from their conversations and exchanges.

This is one thing that’s quite impressive about the film as a whole, you really are never bored during the film, or feel as though you want more than what Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch are offering on screen. Of course this is due in part to some great pacing with the dialogue and some expertly picked moments of character definition, but I think the major part of this is down to some of the best cinematography I’ve seen this year. Man, this is a beautifully shot film. Opening with the forest fire the film is set after, which kicks things off a touch louder than the film necessarily needs, it could very easily be argued that the third character in this film is none other than the forest itself. Timing his shots precisely, long-time collaborator with Green, Tim Orr, makes sure we see the surroundings as the on-screen duo encounter them, and the animals the same. We are given a birds-eye view of the greenery, and of the characters, in a very exploratory but non-intrusive manner that only proves to make you want to hear more of Alvin and Lances conversations and learn more about them. Couple this with the ever affable musical yammerings of Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo, and you could take all the dialogue out of this film, and still have an experience worth remembering.

The only aspect of this film that prevents me from wanting to recommend it to everyone is that, really, nothing happens in the film. This is a well-shot, great sounding piece of cinema with solid performances and some food for thought on the side, but nothing happens. Don’t get me wrong, I was entertained, and really enjoyed the laid back nature of the film, especially in how it handled heavier subject matter, but this isn’t a film for people who would prefer a more meatier approach to their story-telling. Green has taken a very relaxed approach in this project, and it’s incredibly evident in it’s delivery. Even in scenes with lots of activity and when things do kick off, in one particularly giggle-some scene in the last act, it still doesn’t kick you to attention. It’s actually basically like watching an Explosions in the Sky record in film form.

Combining elements from both his comedies and his dramas, David Gordon Green, along with Tim Orr and the rest of the production team at Dogfish Pictures, have created something really very nice with Prince Avalanche. It’s a really well made, beautiful film, and quite quirky in it’s delivery without seeming over-zealous or trying to pander to a particular audience. Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch work incredibly well together on-screen together, and deliver two really solid performances that sell the rolls without over-stating their welcome on-screen or over-playing their characters, a duo to perhaps keep an eye on for future films. This is 90 minutes well-spent, even if it’s a very uneventful 90 minutes.

[easyreview title=”The Arcade Verdict” cat1title=”Story” cat1detail=”Relatively non-existant, but the characters keep you occupied.” cat1rating=”6″ cat2title=”Cinematography” cat2detail=”Visuals are beautiful and film is very well shot, feels very natural.” cat2rating=”9″ cat3title=”Music” cat3detail=”Spot on, would expect nothing less from Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo.” cat3rating=”8″ overall=”true”]