Director: Gia Coppola Writer: Based on the ‘Palo Alto Stories’ by James Franco
Cast: James Franco, Emma Roberts, Val Kilmer, Nat Wolfe
100mins Drama US
Who is really interested in the vacuous lives of spoilt kids in Southern California? Well, perhaps the vacuous spoilt kids of Surbiton or any other affluent teenage neighbourhood in the Western hemisphere. But Gia Coppola’s debut is resonant and meaningful for its heroine, an inexperienced kid on which the story focuses. You can almost hear Francis Ford saying to the younger members of his clan “if you want to make a film, make it about what you know”. And this is the result. The 27-year filmmaker has adapted James Franco’s 2010 short-story collection ‘Palo Alto’ (inspired by his Personal memoirs of growing up in this wealthy city) and it seems genuinely to echo the lives of the other students who attended Palo Alto High School.
There’s nothing particularly new or even fresh about Palo Alto, other than the latest crop of ‘in’ words and phrases that she uses in her story of April (Emma Roberts)…..Larry Clark and Auntie Sophia have made similar inroads into the genre: teenagers ducking and diving in their natural habitat where adults are neither respected nor welcomed – nor were they every teenagers themselves; these kids get into the usual scrapes involving drugs and alcohol and sex. Franco gets a chance to massage his oversize ego and equally well-developed pecs as the local football coach, Mr B, letching around the young and perfectly-formed girls (is this wish fulfillment or fact on Franco’s part?). Emma Roberts is the standout here as his naive and inexperienced love interest, who is actually lusting after a more appropriate crush her own age in the shape of Jack Kilmer. She brilliantly evokes the pent-up confusion and bottled-up hormones of her nubile years, ready to run riot and potentially ruin her chances of a decent education – but it’s unlikely to ends in tears here in affluent West Coast Wonderland. This is a small but perfectly-formed niche drama and maybe Gia will spread her wings to pastures more inventive in her next outing when she has more life experience. For the moment this is her reality. MT
Courtesy of Metrodome Home Entertainment release date with be 9th February 2015