DIR/WRI: David Gordon Green • PRO: James Belfer, David Gordon Green, Lisa Muskat, Derrick Tseng, Craig Zobel • DOP: Tim Orr • ED: Colin Patton • MUS: Explosions in the Sky, David Wingo • CAST: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance LeGault
Prince Avalanche has been preceded in the media by the kind of mood music that suggests that it is the film in which director David Gordon Green retreats/recovers from the commercial, stoner-comedy digressions of Your Highness and Pineapple Express to the artistic purity of his well-reviewed first films, George Washington and All the Real Girls.
In fact, this story about Alvin and his girlfriend’s dopey brother, Lance—camping out in a rural part of Texas as they paint road markings–falls between the two poles already established in Green’s career. As a buddy comedy it is undernourished, making only feeble efforts to draw out the humour of the situation and allowing the characters to flounder as vague sketches of classically comic opposites—Alvin, somewhat repressed and uptight; Lance, libidinous and irresponsible.
At the same time, what is there to appeal to our expectations of character and comedy detracts from the film’s lyrical ambition to compel our attention on a purely impressionistic or imagistic level. Rudd and Hirsch make the most of the wispy material, and there are some moments when the harmony of Tim Orr’s cinematography and the soundtrack compels our attention, as in an inexplicably powerful sequence in which Rudd sets up his camp alone intercut with shots of the surrounding landscape and creatures.
The reputation of Terrence Malick—to whom Green was frequently compared after the release of his first two films—may waver slightly from film to film, but the one thing he doesn’t do is dilute or adulterate his formula. Maybe that willingness to colour outside the lines is ultimately to Green’s credit—certainly, he’s not cranking out the same kind of movie every time—but it doesn’t result in this case in a film that is particularly distinguished.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Prince Avalanche is released on 18th October 2013