Director: Gia Coppola
Talent: Emma Roberts, James Franco, Jack Kilmer, Nat Wolff
Release Date: 17th October 2014
The ‘tired, not depressed’ teens of Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto are brash with typical American excess, their bored binge-drinking and chain-smoking done both for the sake of it and as a cry for help. Rushing into adulthood, April (Emma Roberts) flirts with her soccer coach (James Franco) who helps her with homework before offering her a beer; Fred delivers a lofty, pre-blowjob ‘tell me you love me!’ to Emily, while Teddy holds court, stoned, in Fred’s passenger seat, self-destructing when he takes the wheel of the car as the film’s potent (if clichéd) symbol of escapism. Coppola charts this teenage nightmare in American Apparel pastels, her woozy and naturalist aesthetic stumbling and crossfading in tune with her characters. Palo Alto succeeds when the disparate narrative threads of short stories authored by Franco entwine, colliding in high-school hallways or, more often, in the hallways of a friend’s parents’ house on Dev Hynes-soundtracked Friday nights, but eventually falters as it reveals the trappings of its genre, or the limits of Franco’s increasingly melodramatic source material.
Words: Ross McDonnell