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Movie review: ‘Prince Avalanche’

Posted 5:06pm on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013

R (sexual content); 94 min.


What happened to David Gordon Green?

That’s a question more than a few art-house denizens have been asking lately as Green, who made his directorial debut 13 years ago with the poetic childhood portrait George Washington, has seemingly left his indie spirit behind to direct forgettable raunch-coms ( Your Highness, The Sitter) and Chrysler commercials.

Good news: Green has returned to his roots with Prince Avalanche, a low-fi, weird and wonderful two-hander featuring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. Loosely based on a 2011 Icelandic film called Either Way, Green’s Prince Avalanche often sounds as if it has been translated from a foreign language, in the best sense. With its surreal backdrop of a burned-out forest, its balance of drama and comedy (with a touch of the supernatural), and protagonists worthy of a Samuel Beckett play, Prince Avalanche is that refreshing movie that looks and sounds only like itself.

Rudd and Hirsch play Alvin and Lance, who in 1988 are painting yellow lines down a Texas highway. Making their awkward way down the blacktop in a ramshackle truck and following strict rules on the use of a boombox, these two misfits continually bicker and misunderstand one another.

Working with longtime collaborators, including cinematographer Tim Orr and the band Explosions in the Sky, Green creates an all-enveloping world that begins to feel utterly timeless and self-enclosed.

The net effect is funny, sad and psychedelic all at once, and as Green subtly pulls the lens back, it becomes less a quirky buddy comedy than a winsome parable about people putting their lives back together, moment by stumbling moment.

Exclusive: Landmark Magnolia, Dallas

— Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

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