Writer/director David Gordon Green returns to moody, rural drama with “Prince Avalanche,” a welcome return to form for a director who spent the last several years making scatological, stoner-oriented Hollywood comedies.
Best known originally for the quiet indie films “George Washington” (2000) and “All the Real Girls” (2003), Green later moved on to the likes of “Pineapple Express,” “Your Highness” and the noxious Jonah Hill vehicle “The Sitter,” as well as episodes of Eastbound and Down.
But now he’s back in his original wheelhouse of Terrence Malick-inspired drama, and he’s brought Paul Rudd back with him.
“Prince Avalanche,” set in 1988 West Texas, has Alvin (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend’s brother Lance (Emile Hirsch), working together repainting traffic lines following a major tornado. They spend the vast majority of the movie’s 93-minute running time talking- about their lives, about girls, the future and much more. The film is based on an obscure Norwegian film called “Either Way (Á annan veg),” but I haven’t seen that, and neither have you.
The film has just beautiful photography, and also sports a standout store from Friday Night Lights veterans Explosions in the Sky, although the score doesn’t sound particularly like that show’s. And while this sort of movie- two guys out in wide open spaces, talking- can often be boring, “Prince Avalanche” never is. I also often forgot that it was supposed to be 1988, mostly because the absence of cell phones is the only thing grounding it there.
Rudd, who’s been choosing some bad movies lately, is much better here, sporting a mustache and mostly acting as a stuffy straight man, while Hirsch, who’s been mostly out of movies lately, is amusing, very much channeling a young Jack Black.
Green’s forays into broad, stoner-inflected comedy weren’t a total loss; I remember thinking “Pineapple Express” was hilarious, and his ‘Eastbound’ work too. But it’s good to see him getting back to what he does best.