Prince Avalanche (2013)

The movie takes the audience on a meditative journey through the wilderness, exploring themes of self-discovery and transformative power of solitude

7/24/20233 min read

Paul Rudd as Alvin in Prince Avalanche
Paul Rudd as Alvin in Prince Avalanche

English, 94 minutes, 2013

Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance Le Gault, Joyce Payne

Awards: Silver Bear for Best Director and Nominated for Golden Bear at Berlin International Film festival, 2013; Nominee for Best adapted screenplay, Georgia Film Critics Association and Chlotrudis awards

At the start of the movie we are informed that a wildfire raged through central Texas in 1987 and almost 16000 homes were destroyed with four lives being lost. The screenplay of this film is based on Icelandic film ‘Either Way’ made in 2011 and has that fire ravaged landscape as its premise.

Alvin (Paul Rudd) is a road worker who works with his brother- in- law Lance (Emile Hirsch), painting and putting driving markers on the roads. The job is monotonous and boring but Alvin finds solace in working in solitude. Lance, on the other hand, misses city life and is bored to death. As weekend approaches, Lance is excited to leave to enjoy for nearest city while Alvin wants to enjoy his solitude in woods. They frequently meet an old truck driver who shares liquor with them and is their only acquaintance on these deserted roads.

On one of the weekends, Lance is away and Alvin is roaming the forest when he encounters an old woman who is rummaging through her burnt home. He talks to her and she informs him that she is searching her pilot’s license and other articles. He wishes her best and leaves and roams through other burnt homes.

After the weekend, Lance returns grumpy. Alvin wants to talk him out of it and after some time when they are relaxing, Lance reveals that he didn’t have good weekend and discusses why it was not up to his expectation. He later gives Alvin a big manila envelope saying Madison, Alvin’s wife and Lance’s sister, had sent this to him. Next morning, as Lance gets up he finds Alvin missing. Out of curiosity, he opens the manila envelope which contains letter written by Madison for Alvin. He reads through and learns that his sister has left Alvin.

Alvin returns after some time and Lance asks him if something is wrong. Alvin doesn’t reveal what Lance already knows. On pushing further, Alvin is agitated and this results into a mild fight. Lance chases Alvin to hit and Alvin runs away. But he jumps off from higher ground, hurts himself and calls Lance for help. Lance obliges and truce happens. Both discuss at length their problems and joys. As the two characters spend more time in the wilderness, their conversations and experiences begin to shape their perceptions of themselves and the world around them. Lance discloses that a woman in late forties, Cathy, with whom Lance had slept earlier, had called him to tell that she is pregnant. Lance doesn’t want to take responsibility but Alvin thinks that this is the greatest thing that has happened and he should be grateful and accept parenthood.

They both get drunk and enjoy. In the last sequence as the duo is travelling, they notice the old woman who Alvin had met earlier, who was looking for her pilot’s license. They call and yell for her but she doesn’t listen. Soon the old truck driver comes from other side and the woman gets into his truck but, interestingly enough, the driver cannot see her. Incidentally, the old woman is real life affected person whose house was destroyed in fire and whom the crew encountered on location while filming. They then incorporated her role in the script and shot on the fly. This small cameo does give an interesting turn to the whole story and leaves viewers thinking.

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch's exceptional performances, combined with David Gordon Green's sensitive direction, make this movie a hidden gem that deserves appreciation.

About the director, David Gordon Green

Born in April, 1975 at Little Rock, Arkansas, US, David spent his early days in Richardson, Texas. He attended school in Richardson and then went to University of Texas, Austin. He studied Film Direction at School of Arts, University of North Carolina.

Green has worked extensively for Television and on films, both since 2000 when he made his first feature, ‘George Washington’ a drama film about a group of children in a town of North Carolina, for which he also wrote the screenplay. His next film was ‘All the Real Girls’ (2003) which is about a young womanizer and his best friend’s younger sister.

His debut for television happened in 2009 with a 12 episode comedy series, ‘Eastbound and Down’, broadcast on HBO, which was about a professional baseball pitcher, who after poor show in leagues is forced to take up a job as substitute physical education instructor. Till date Green has worked on 10 TV series as director or Executive producer and 16 feature films as director.

His present film is his 8th film, which was shot more like an independent film rather than a studio production which was wrapped in 15 days shooting and entire post in less than 2 months.