Yes, first time director Gia is a Coppola. Niece of Sophia, Granddaughter of Francis. But if Palo Alto's depiction of disaffected youth is a tad by rote, her assured, atmospheric direction announces a vivid and individual filmmaker.
Loosely based on James Franco's collection of short stories 'Palo Alto: Stories' the adaptation benefits from its extremely talented cast. Newcomer Jack Kilmer brings understated brilliance to the role of Teddy, a skate-boarding, joint-toking sweetie, hopelessly in love with April (Emma Roberts). You can say what you like about James Franco, but his depiction of predatory football coach is pitch perfect -and Nat Wolff (of The Fault in Our Stars) is explosive as volatile charmer Freddy.
The style is languid, dreamy but never sickly. The mood is too dark; the shots too stark. Coppola's background in photography is strongly felt in her impressionistic cinematography, which cuts through the teens' feigned nonchalance to their emotional cores. One such example is the sex-scene, where Emma Roberts' ingénue April submits to the advances of the football coach (Franco): a moment treated with the utmost sensitivity. Franco displays an admirable lack of vanity, making us forget his movie star looks and instead giving us a manipulative man, dewy eyed with a pathetic 'puppy love' for his student. Roberts is touchingly twitchy, by turns curious and dubious of her own allure. They fight. They make up. They kiss, and suddenly Coppola zooms into Roberts' face. In this moment, the facts of the erotic act become far less interesting than the symphony of colour, breath and shadow found in this most intimate yet least voyeuristic close up.
Although named after a city, really these characters could be anywhere. They flit to and from interiors; school, home, car, a friend's home, car again; a hamster-in-a-wheel existence that frustrates the abandon they crave. Palo Alto opens with Freddy pointlessly bumping his car into a wall: when it comes to bored teenagers, collisions are inevitable.
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
03 Oct 14 – 03 Nov 14, 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for more information.|