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Film Review: Prince Avalanche

10th October 2013

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Prince Avalanche is a film for the non-casual viewer to get engrossed in, comforting like a warm blanket but also moving, thought-provoking and, at times, extremely funny. 

Prince AvalancheSet as two men paint the roads after a devastating forest fire in the late eighties, Prince Avalanche is an existential study of being, delving into the characters of two very different embodiments of manhood (Paul Rudd’s ‘real man’ and Emilie Hirsch’s youthful ‘ladies man’) both sure of their position as alpha males but ultimately flawed and fractured. 

Acting plaudits go to Rudd whose brilliantly understated, and emotional performance shows that he has more strings to his acting bow than he is given credit for. His balance of comic timing and silent emoting is impressive. 

The film plays out, in the majority, between the two main characters largely alone in a beautiful, but charred forest – their thoughts, their personalities. The dialogue and the relationship between the two winds and veers at a slow place, mirroring the protagonists’ drifting journey along the vast forest road. Action and even speech is at a minimum, but it is a testament to how a good Green is as a film maker that this enhances the experience. 

Cut with stunning shots of the wilderness and its animal inhabitants, the location almost becomes a third character acting as the counterpoint to the human action and creating the sense of the all engulfing immensity of the world and existence. The wordless presence of the wounded forest also serves to reinforce the rebirth of the characters and humbles them in such a way as to make their turmoil in amongst it all seem charming. 

Add the stunning score from post-rock band Explosions In The Sky which perfectly matches the mood, and action on screen (it works in the similarly essential manner that Mogwai’s work on The Returned was the best part of the show) and you have a near-perfect whole.

All these elements interweave to create a daring film in the world of Hollywood comedies – minimal, devoid of obvious laughs and a film that requires thought rather than submission from the viewer. Rather than offering the cheap thrills of a blockbuster binge, Prince Avalanche is soul food for your inner cinephile. 

Unfortunately, it is these elements that mean it is destined for the ‘cult’ film pile. 

Prince Avalanche is not a mass-market comedy, but is a subtle, beautiful masterclass in how minimalist film-making can be wonderfully engaging. If you are after obvious gags, simple moral messages and standard conclusions avoid this movie. 

If you want something to feed your mind, ears and soul – give it a try.

Prince Avalanche is in cinemas 18th October 2013

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