Review: ‘Prince Avalanche’ Puts a Charming Spin on the Buddy Film

By August 9, 2013

It isn’t easy to make a movie that revolves around road work interesting, but leave it to David Gordon Green to pull it off.

Based on the 2011 Icelandic film Either Way, Prince Avalanche is set in Texas after the 1980s wildfires. It follows two road workers, Alvin (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend’s brother Lance (Emile Hirsch), as they do repair work, re-painting the yellow lines on roads.

Prince Avalanche’s simple premise is complemented by bold imagery and a gentle score by David Wimgo and the rock band Explosions in the Sky. Add to that touching performances from Rudd and Hirsch and you’ve got another example of why indie films have garnered so much attention this summer. The film also relies a great deal on symbolism, including the appearance of a brutally honest truck driver and a old woman who may or may not be real.

A welcome, unconventional buddy film, Prince Avalanche’s appeal lies in the dynamic between Alvin and Lance. Alvin is taking great pains to be cultured, perhaps to impress his seemingly indifferent girlfriend, while Lance is carefree and would rather discuss the various women he’s hooked up with. Of course, watching them spend hours on end with one another on desolate roads proves entertaining and ultimately leads to the film’s amusing payoff, in which the two have it out.

It may be argued that Rudd’s full range as an actor has yet to be recognized. Earlier this year, his role as a philanthropic adoptive father in Admission went unnoticed as did his impressive turn in the box office disappointment This is 40. Here, the actor gives one of his best performances, showing off his brilliant comedic timing while conveying the heartbreak and loneliness Alvin is grappling with. Hirsch’s engaging portrayal will make you wonder how he slipped under the radar after his acclaimed performances in standouts like Into the Wild and Milk.

For a film that centers around something so mundane, Prince Avalanche is certainly a worthwhile gem.

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Justine Browning
Justine is a film and culture reporter whose work has appeared in USA Today, Indie Wire and The Huffington Post. She currently serves as an on-camera correspondent for MovieWeb and Cine Movie TV.