'Prince Avalanche' review: Quirky non-story suffers glacial pace
Not quite a comedy and lacking enough plot to call it a drama, "Prince Avalanche" (which screened during the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival and opening in theaters Aug. 1) is a slowly-moving film that defies convention or genre.
In short: Two mismatched men (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) work together painting road strips, in the lonely isolation of the Texas wilderness. (watch the trailer)
First and foremost, 'Prince Avalanche' has no obvious narrative. Knowing this prevents anticipating any sort of plot points and simply enjoy this odd series of events. The core of 'Avalanche' is how these two guys interact and bicker with each other as they are forced to work alongside each other in near total solitude.
Film history has a number of great movies without much or any plot ('My Dinner with Andre' or 'Napoleon Dynamite') - but these films unburdened by plot must craft interesting characters in lieu of telling a traditional story. In this regard, 'Avalanche' succeeds as Hirsch and Rudd create oddly captivating characters with a good dynamic. The script has almost no 'jokes,' however, these two actors are able to deliver great dialogue that's hilarious without relying solely on a set-up/punchline framework.
The film's main problem is its, at-times, tortuously slow pacing. There's literally a shot of a turtle walking - this particular shot comes amid a number of other glacially slow shots. 'Avalanche' allows these moments to breath, perhaps a little too long. This results in a film that is barely over 90 minutes feeling like a much longer movie - and it's never great for a film to feel much longer than its actual running time.
Final verdict: Great, subtle humor is overwhelmed by a lack of narrative and glacially slow pacing that rivals molasses flowing downhill.