PALO ALTO (2013)
Directed by Gia Coppola
PALO ALTO focuses on the lives of a group of teenagers. Though their lives have already been set on the collision course, things come to a head at their schoolfriend’s house party. April has feelings for Teddy, as does he, but instead of admitting this mutual feeling, they both resort to different actions, hurting each other in the process. Teddy’s affiliation with friend Fred becomes increasingly toxic which leaves Teddy potentially facing juvenile hall if he doesn’t change his ways. Fred obnoxious behaviour becomes dangerous to himself as well as others, particularly his relationship with Emily, a girl who just can’t say no to boys.
Based on the Pal Alto Stories by James Franco, Gia Coppola directs teenage drama PALO ALTO which explores life growing up as a teenager and why we choose to do what we do. The main subjects of the movie are April (Emma Roberts) and Teddy (Jack Kilmer). April harbours feelings for Teddy but after he disappears with another girl at a party, their friendship hits rock bottom. With a step-father (played by Val Kilmer) who likes to rewrite her essays and a mother who’s never off the telephone, her home life and family relationship isn’t that much better. The only attention she seems to get is from her soccer coach, Mr B (James Franco), who appears to see her more than just a student and a babysitter for his son. Teddy, meanwhile, is constantly led astray by wild Fred (Nat Wolff) and his crazy ideas. His lack of realisation of what he wants and his lack of maturity when considering other people’s feelings force Teddy to start afresh. But with Fred loitering about, will he ever get himself on the right path?
Whilst there’s not really a plot as such, the loose narrative of these teenagers makes enough sense to appreciate what the film is trying to explore. The film meanders throughout but ties up the four stories of each of the characters quite well. The choice of actors to portray the teens is a brilliant one, with Emma Roberts and Jack Kilmer (who’s the spitting image of his father) stealing the show. Their characters are pretty likeable compared to those of Fred and Emily who appear to be very manipulative to get what they want. By the end of the film though, each of the teens have come to a realisation about their lives and have made a decision whether to continue along the same path or change for their life for the better.
If you’re into laid back dramas that explore emotions and the journey into adulthood, then PALO ALTO might be worth a look.