New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Hirsch, Rudd showcase dramatic side in ‘Prince Avalanche’

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

After spending the last four years on stoner comedy “Pineapple Express” and comedic flops “Your Highness” and “The Sitter,” writer-director David Gordon Green’s latest effort, “Prince Avalanche,” could be called a return to form. The man behind critically acclaimed dramas “All the Real Girls” and “Snow Angels” takes cues both from his earlier dramatic work and his more recent comedic indulgences to craft this new film—an American remake of the Icelandic film “Either Way.”

The film stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as two road workers whose job it is to nail in road markers and paint the yellow stripes that separate the lanes of the road in an area destroyed by wildfire. Alvin (Rudd) usually does this work alone, but agrees to hire his girlfriend’s brother Lance (Hirsch) for the summer as a favor.

The straight-laced Alvin and the young, rebellious Lance naturally butt heads as Alvin tries to teach Lance the value of work, how to fend for himself in nature and, most importantly, how to be alone. Lance, on the other hand, just wants to have sex and rock out with his friends.

While Alvin and Lance could come off as one-dimensional caricatures, Rudd and Hirsch play them with a sensitivity that makes them feel authentic. Even though Green lends a cartoonish quality to these characters, dressing them in clothes that make them look like Mario and Luigi, right down to Rudd’s mustache, the actors inhabit the minds and hearts of these characters with total honesty and without irony.

There are only three other characters in the film: a friendly truck driver with booze to share, Alvin’s girlfriend Madison — who is never seen, only voiced — and a mysterious woman in a red hat who provides one of the most poignant moments in the film. One could also argue that nature itself is as much of a character in “Prince Avalanche” as any of these people, and Green captures it and its interaction with the roadwork beautifully. Every shot in the film is carefully and

gorgeously composed, with special attention to a color palette of forest greens and browns highlighted with vibrant reds, yellows and blues.

Green also takes certain risks in style and visuals, such as a sequence of overlapping phone arguments between Alvin and Madison that plays over a black-and-white

moving shot of road stripes. Another interesting choice is having the band Explosions in the Sky score the film’s soundtrack. Even though the band’s music has been used in countless TV shows and films before, the soundtrack truly stands out here.

Heartfelt performances from Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch,

as well as daring and beautiful work behind the camera from David Gordon Green, help make “Prince Avalanche” not just an adaptation but a modern, unique and personal update of the Icelandic original.

Ife Olujobi is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected].

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  • M

    Maria VirokhovskyJul 1, 2013 at 3:31 am

    Thank you very much for this wonderful, beautifully worded review!