What exactly are we supposed to expect these days from David Gordon Green? The American director's early, fiercely independent dramas have given way to a series of goofy post-Apatow studio comedies, suggesting to some observers that Mr. Green may have "sold out". Prince Avalanche isn't the expected answer: it's a low-budget, independently-financed production set almost exclusively in rural Texas locations and a chamber play for two actors, but those actors are Hollywood players Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and the film has a number of common themes with those comedies.

     Set during a particularly hard late-1980s summer of wild fires, it's a sort of "bromance" about men who have an obvious hard time growing up and assuming their responsibilities. Lance (Mr. Hirsch) is the college student brother of the girlfriend of Alvin (Mr. Rudd), who has taken him as a helper to help repaint and refit the rural roads struck by the fires, but they seem to have very little in common other than that loose connection. Lance is an easy-going party dude who thinks the job sucks and looks forward to his weekend forays back to town, while Alvin is a self-motivating stick-to-the-rulebook type who yearns for a regular life.

     While Mr. Green is merely adapting Hafstein Gunnar Sigurdsson's Icelandic film Either Way, his take works a dream as an American story, a sort of slow-moving road movie about people searching for themselves during a trip through the back country, complete with a predictable three-act structure and an equally predictable ending where each one learns something from each other. That Prince Avalanche manages to become an amiable, laidback film is due to the odd intimation of inexplainable events throughout, the committed performances of the two actors and the easy-going rhythm the director applies; but amiable as it may be, it doesn't seem to either break any new ground or suggest what will be Mr. Green's route from here on.

Cast: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch
Director: David Gordon Green
Screenplay: Mr. Green, from the film Either Way written and directed by Hafstein Gunnar Sigurdsson
Cinematography: Tim Orr  (colour, widescreen)
Music: Explosions In The Sky, David Wingo
Designer: Richard A. Wright
Costumes: Jill Newell
Editor: Colin Patton
Producers: Lisa Muskat, Derrick Tseng, Craig Zobel, James Belfer, Mr. Green (Muskat Filmed Properties and Dogfish Pictures in association with Lankn Partners, Dreambridge Films, The Bear Media and Rough House Pictures)
USA, 2012, 95 minutes

Screened: Berlin Film Festival 2013 official competition advance press screening, Berlinale Palast (Berlin), February 12th 2013


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