David Gordon Green’s propensity to lace his earlier work with human-centric drama is his most revered quality in my eyes, what with everything leading up to Pineapple Express collectively reveling in its niche-establishing small-town beauty. Alternately low-key and explosive, All the Real Girls and Snow Angels – while obviously and thematically dissimilar – examine the flaws of the human condition in Green’s own personal way, more specifically one that’s distinct and characteristic of his artistic flourishes. His latest – Prince Avalanche – undoubtedly serves as a spiritual successor to his emotionally sobering heyday, the film harboring appealing if basal seriocomic tendencies at frequent intervals.
The film’s central duo – Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) – are a pair of road workers tasked with reinvigorating a vast stretch of fire-ravaged Texas woodland. At first quietly illustrating his feelings of passive ill will toward his could-be brother-in-law, Alvin tries admirably but struggles to coexist with his uneducated, lackadaisical coworker. As tensions build prior to an unexpected twist of fate, Alvin’s newly-inherited dejectedness brings to a head a dramatic crux that precedes a much-needed joint catharsis.
Generally speaking, Prince Avalanche has its wits about it, pitching bits of effective humor here and there to offset an agreeably glum setting to mirror Alvin’s existential woes. In fact, the film as a whole is heavily driven by interplay between characters, and its Hirsch’s Lance acting as a near-perfect foil to his counterpart that produces some spot-on chemistry between leads. Although a peculiar imbalance exists between the base importance of the two characters – thanks largely to Alvin’s beautifully rendered meltdown – Green’s latter-act exposition of their respective evolutions remains effective even as it lacks the wallop I was hoping for.
Stumbling upon the implementation of a symbolic narrative glitch – one that takes the form of an elderly woman that may or may not be real – Prince Avalanche is an amiable, character-driven journey down a road to inevitable self-discovery. Simplistic and transparent as I found it to be, David Gordon Green’s reversion back to the substance that put him on the map is a serviceable, moreover welcome career move. Visually poetic and aptly humorous if unevenly stirring, Prince Avalanche carries with it a singular charm that mostly overcomes what some will inevitably describe as dull.