Mini-review: 'Prince Avalanche'
David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche" may be a Texas-set remake of the 2011 Icelandic drama "Either Way," but it bears the unmistakable stamp of the indie filmmaker's minimalist, poetic style, even as a road buddy movie.
Make that a reluctant buddy stuck-on-the-road movie.
This quietly charming, leisurely paced character study gives comic actor Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch miles of road on which their characters can find themselves while fighting, talking, working and deceiving each other as well as themselves.
"Prince Avalanche" is sort of a blue collar version of the indie fave "My Dinner With Andre," with most of the attention focused on the revealing interactions between two men stuck in a confined space.
Rudd plays Alvin, a veteran painter of highway dividing lines on a long stretch of Texas state park roads scorched by wildfires back in 1988. Alvin greatly misses his unseen girlfriend Madison, as evidenced by the mopey letters he narrates as he writes them.
Alvin arranged to have Madison's free-falling kid brother Lance (Hirsch) hired as his underling. Now it's just the two of them, together in a tiny tent or out on the hot road painting mile after mile of yellow dashes on the pavement.
Lance can't stand the monotony and counts the hours to the weekend when he'll have the freedom to head into the nearest town for some feminine attention.
The self-reflective, highly buttoned-up Alvin seems to thrive on isolation, despite his verbal protests otherwise. For a guy constantly avowing his love for Madison, he doesn't seem to have followed through with much time for her.
The contrast between these two personalities creates a sharp yet subtle humor in Green's low-key, slow-build story about the formation of a genuine friendship.
The odd road repairmen meet one traveler, an old codger of a truck driver (the late actor Lance LeGault, to whom this movie is dedicated). He offers the guys some of his special homemade booze and moves on.
The two also befriend a mysterious elderly woman (Joyce Payne) rummaging through the ashes of her once-beautiful house, attempting to find evidence of her former life. (How mysterious is she? The guys talk to her, but the truck driver apparently can't see her.)
Green, aided by his cinematographer Tim Orr, presents the scorched Texas countryside (actually, Bastrop State Park, devastated by fires during 2011) as a full-fledged character given to mood swings, and both desolation and indescribable beauty only feet away from each other.
This is a soft-sell postcard to people reaching true understanding through the messy and inefficient process of everyday conversation. It's a little bit funny, a little bit scary. And all very human.
"Prince Avalanche" opens at the Music Box Theatre, Chicago. Rated R for sexual situations. 94 minutes. ★ ★ ★
7th teen film fest
Join me and the teen librarians at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library's seventh annual Teen Film Fest, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, at 500 N. Dunton Ave., Arlington Heights.
We'll show many of the 27 entries, interview some of the filmmakers and announce winners in six categories, including best film, best comedy, best action picture and the audience award prize
My co-judges are teen librarian Tom Spicer, Arlington Heights Arts Commissioner Toni Higgins Thrash and Metropolis Performing Arts Centre playwright Scott Woldman.
Free admission! Go to ahml.info for details.
• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!