Saturday, December 21, 2013
Prince Avalanche. B+
David Gordon Green has always been best at dealing with male relationships, which is why his venture into the buddy comedy genre starting in 2008 is not quite as shocking as might have initially seemed. The problem wasn't so much that he was making comedies, but that they were so clumsy and forgettable (his output of Your Highness and The Sitter in 2011 brought him to a shocking low). Clearly no longer favored like he once was by critics, Green pretty much had to return to the backwoods world he was so comfortable in his early triumphs (George Washington, All the Real Girls, and Undertow) if he wanted to regain some respect. He certainly returns to the locale in his latest film, Prince Avalanche, about two men (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, both doing the best work of their careers) spending a summer in a woodsy Texas region repainting traffic lines. And yet what I loved about it is that he refuses to go back all the way to the grittier style he employed in his early films. It wouldn't have been a problem in and of itself, but in light of Green's recent failings, it would have seemed an obvious move-almost a cop-out. That Green stays in buddy comedy territory here suggests that whatever the mediocrity of his output these last five years, he still was taking himself seriously as a filmmaker. Yet by bringing back the woodsy flavor of his early movies, plus that he's writing again, suggests that he recognizes where his true strengths lie as a filmmaker.