Film review: Palo Alto
From American Graffiti to Dazed and Confused, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Spring Breakers, stories about teenagers and their experiments with vices and struggles with families have been cinematic catnip for decades.
And as a way of graphic illustration, here is the third generation of Coppola to tackle the subject.
Yes, following in the footsteps of granddad Frances (The Outsiders) and Aunt Sofia (The Virgin Suicides), Gia Coppola's debut film is a look at the lives of some comfortable-living, but clearly troubled teens in San Francisco's Bay Area.
Actually, this is perhaps more James Franco's film, given that it is based on his 2010 short-story collection and he plays a football coach who gets involved with his babysitter and budding striker April (Emma Roberts). She is also keen on stoner Fred (Nat Wolff), whose buddy Teddy (Jack Kilmer) just cannot seem to stay out of trouble with the law.
Despite clearly showing the family flair behind the camera (and an ear for a suitable soundtrack), Coppola's sometimes rambling tale lacks a standout performance, compelling character or sense of verve to really set it apart from the crowded teen-angst movie field.
The message of the movie seems to be that the adults are just as flawed and wacky as their kids, but Palo Alto lacks the punch of say Thirteen or the grittiness of the works of Larry Clark (Kids, Bully). And in the end, it is overshadowed by Aunt Sophia's own recent take on California teen behaving badly - the flashier, funnier, fresher The Bling Ring.
Palo Alto (Rating TBC)
- Sunday Star Times