With summer ending, I thought it wise to fit in this feature, which discusses an end-of-summer film, Prince Avalanche (2013), which was actually released in October. *Plot spoilers to follow, so please, I beg you: watch the film if you haven’t already.
I admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect from David Gordon Green’s comedy/drama about two guys putting lines down on a stretch of road in Texas in the late 1980s. (According to A. A. Dowd’s August 2013 article for A. V. Club, the film was shot “on the cheap at Bastrop State Park in central Texas.”) But as it turns out, Prince Avalanche (2013), which was based on the Icelandic film Either Way (Á annan veg, 2011), gives us a Paul Rudd we haven’t quite seen before: a range of acting ability that goes beyond the smirking, comedic antics from the films directed and/or written by Judd Apatow, Rogen/Goldberg, and Ivan Reitman.
There’s a sensitivity in Prince Avalanche, a deft touch, which demands some patience from the viewer. Indeed, sensitivity is part of the film’s overarching theme. In particular, Green and his co-writers, Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson (director and co-writer of Either Way) and Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson (co-writer of Either Way), do an excellent job of dramatizing how a widening gulf between two men can be bridged through the ability to empathize.
On the surface, Alvin, played by Paul Rudd, is a square, hokey, in-touch-with-nature, out-of-touch-with-the-“real”-world kind of guy. He’s first seen bawling out his younger, hipper co-worker, Lance, played by Emile Hirsch. And we initially sympathize with the younger man because he seems like a free spirit. (And aren’t these names brilliantly evocative of the personalities? “Alvin,” with his perfectly symmetrical overalls, his preposterous moustache, and sexual naivete. “Lance,” which perhaps makes us think of Lancelot, wooer of lovely women, not tied down to home or convention.)
These sympathies are reinforced in one of the film’s first (of several) monologues, which occurs when Alvin writes his fiancé, Madison, who is Lance’s sister:
As for your brother, the countryside isn’t teaching him anything, other than how much he misses the big, active nightlife… He quite realistically could never amount to anything. How could you be his age and not know how to gut a fish or build a tent or tie a knot…