Paul Rudd can’t save bore-fest in the forest

Simon Thomson
Cert 15 | By Simon Thomson
Two Stars

PRINCE Avalanche is the meandering tale of two men painting road-markings in a Texas forest. It’s exactly like watching paint dry.

A loose remake of a 2011 Icelandic comedy called Á Annan Veg (Either Way), Prince Avalanche’s plot is slight. Alvin (Paul Rudd, pictured) thinks he’s a latter day Henry David Thoreau, an intellectual hoping to find himself in the wilderness. He hires his girlfriend’s dumb, shiftless brother Lance (Emile Hirsch) to help him re-paint roads in an area that was recently ravaged by forest fires. They feud and bond, and if the film is about anything, it's probably the awkwardness of emotion in male friendship. Rudd and Hirsch bring a degree of sensitivity to characters who are initially off-putting. The difficulty of their task is heightened by the film’s unnecessary 1988 setting, which encumbers Rudd with a moustache and Hirsch with Princess Di-hair.

The film makes the most of the scenery, and punctuates disjointed episodes with fleeting appearances by woodland creatures (the best of which is a skunk). While it is generally well shot, there is a peculiar scene in which Alvin meets a woman sifting through the burnt remnants of her house, and the shaky-cam becomes a little nauseating. The scene also entails dialogue voiced over images of unspeaking actors. Presumably the intent was to give the encounter a dreamlike quality, but the effect is just baffling. Later the only other substantial character in the film – an elderly trucker who turns up at opportune moments to dispense wisdom and moonshine – claims not to be aware of the woman, despite the fact that she’s sitting in his truck, so perhaps she’s a ghost or a metaphor for something? That’s the problem really – the film seems to be striving for a deeper meaning, but it barely coheres at the surface.