Prince Avalanche is a beautiful, well made and quirky indie film. The score alone is reason enough to watch it. Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo set the nostalgic musical ambience that reflects Alvin’s—the main character (played by Paul Rudd)—solitary nature.
It is also the perfect backdrop for the nature shots and overall cinematography of the film… scenes like the yellow sun being covered by red clouds after a forest fire and yellow paint dripping into a stream come to mind. It’s artsy, of course, but also strangely powerful. The nature shots draw the viewer into Alvin’s lonely but beautiful world, and are interspersed between the dialogues and acting scenes, which are rich in subtext and very well written.
Alvin is a road painter… the guy who paints the yellow lines in the middle of the road. He’s painting the lines in a road in the middle of a forest which had recently undergone a fire, accompanied by Lance (played by Emile Hirsch), a slightly dumb, innocent dude who is just happy to have a job but also doesn’t quite connect with Alvin’s more intellectual side at the beginning of the film.
The movie’s odd historical setting—a forest after a fire—lends the opportunity for Alvin to meet other people whose lives revolve around the forest and who were deeply affected by the fire. These lonely people and their lonely stories are touching, because they are honest. Every encounter that Alvin and Lance have with them is real and grounding. They connect through their honesty, and sadness, and loss.
Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch inhabit their characters skin. I’ve never seen Rudd in a tragic role before, but he should do it more often. It suits him. I believed his performance as Alvin, a self-conscious intellectual with a heart of gold and a desire for solitude. Emile Hirsch as Lance serves as the perfect complement to his character, bringing him out of his shell as well as establishing a real, sound connection with him.
In terms of plot nothing much really happens, except that Alvin and Lance start to form a connection based on the mutual understanding they come to develop of each other, but this is more than enough. Stories with no plot can work, as long as the other aspects of the story are strong, and they are in this film. There are also touches of magical realism and comedy here and there that serve as the perfect seasoning. An all around great and refreshing film. I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of indie movies.