Thanks to the breezy performances of Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and the rhythmic way they play off of each other, David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche is an unexpected delight. Set amongst the charred remnants of lush Texas forests ravaged by wildfires, it’s a clever bromance that addresses the angst of the contemporary male with its tongue firmly in cheek.
Rudd plays Alvin, the supervisor of a job detail that includes repainting yellow lines down the middle of scarred back roads. His sole employee is Lance (Hirsch, best known for Into the Wild), the doofus brother of his long-distance girlfriend, Madison, to whom he writes old-fashioned letters sprinkled with the German words he’s picking up via cassette tape. Because the seldom-traversed roads wind through the wilderness, they set up their crude shelter – a tent, a camping stove, and sleeping bags - every night and attempt to keep boredom at bay.
The guys seem about fifteen years apart, a wide generation gap among post-boomers. In his own estimation, Alvin is the deep philosopher, dispensing bubble-thin bits of clichéd wisdom (like “being lonely isn’t the same as being alone”) that he finds profound. Nothing registers with Lance, whose interests seem limited to sex and comic books. They squabble about who gets equal time feeding the boom box and pontificate about their weekend plans – Lance is going to town intent on connecting with an old girlfriend while Alvin simply anticipates the solitude.
The movie is a remake of an Icelandic film called Either Way, released in 2011. Little is known about that film but Green must have been inspired to rethink it within the context of a socially stratified America. Lance and Alvin have modest dreams - getting laid, a trip overseas - that unfold in a deftly written screenplay. Their back-and-forth is both pungent and funny and Rudd and Hirsch give the script a sly zing. It will make you wince at times but also laugh in spite of yourself.
Prince Avalanche| Dir. David Gordon Green | 1 hour 34 minutes | Showing at The Screenland Armour