Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind.
Director: David Gordon Green
Writer[s]: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson [original story], David Gordon Green [adaptation]
It doesn’t get much more indie than Prince Avalanche. Adapted from an Icelandic film by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, shot in only 16 days, original music from Explosions in the Sky and even a track written by stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and a plot summary of “two road workers’ experiences on the job in 1988”, this is a film a lot of people probably haven’t heard about. It is kind of a surprising production from Pineapple Express and Eastbound and Down director David Gordon Green, and the trailer is very telling of the subject matter and tone. Overall, this movie is just a weird sell for commercial audiences, but personally, I love finding weird little films like this.
Rudd gives a classic performance filled with strange, smirk-inspiring physical and verbal comedy. Paired with his usual musings, Rudd can also convey some convincing, affecting scenes of dramatic tone. Hirsch is finally back in a film I can enjoy as a pudgy, immature, inexperienced twenty-something who has a lot to learn about solitude, work, and life in general. He also gives an odd comedic performance that ties well with Rudd. The chemistry is there to be able to carry the film.
The production is very minimalist, and creates a quaint, introspective viewing experience. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen or expected to see from Green, the writer/director. He creates a warm, natural, and sometimes beautiful character study. I loved the soundtrack from Explosions in the Sky, who I have now really started to listen to and appreciate. They’ve got a unique sound, one you might have heard in the hit show Friday Night Lights, where they got their first commercial success. Everything seems to be on the same wavelength, and it all combines to make a really focused, all-together movie that packs a surprisingly solid dramatic, heart-felt punch.
3.5/4 – One of the strangest character studies I’ve seen in a good while, but in the best way. Prince Avalanche is a work of production and performance that all combine in a wonderful and focused direction. It is both oddly funny and peculiarly powerful.