Film Review – Palo Alto (2013)

Palo Alto - postTitle – Palo Alto (2013)

Director – Gia Coppola (feature debut)

Cast – Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, James Franco, Nat Wolff, Zoe Levin

Plot – A sprawling portrayal of disenfranchised youth growing up in the suburb of Palo Alto, these wonder souls include trouble maker Teddy (Kilmer) and confused soccer player April (Roberts).

 “I wish I didn’t care about anything. But I do care. I care about everything too much”

Review by Eddie on 17/08/2015

As aimless as the teens it portrays, Palo Alto see’s yet another Coppola enter into the movie making business, this time Gia, Francis’s (The Godfather) granddaughter and Sophia’s (Lost in Translation) niece who in adapting James Franco’s collection of short stories of the same name has created an at brief times realistic and insightful look into modern day teenage hood yet stumbles in actually saying anything of merit in a tale that starts depressing and ends there to.

Palo Alto clearly wants to be a showcase for the Los Angeles brackets of teenagers, the type that party first and study later and the type that have fun by chopping down trees with chainsaws late at night. Palo Alto actually feels like more of a fever dream of a cautionary tale or look into this life as to be honest it never really connects on a level that feels wholly realistic. There type of films work best when scenarios and characters feel real or relatable and while Palo Alto can for brief moments do this, a majority of situations and players either do things that feel utterly ridiculous (like a lot of teens do, just not to this level) or downright unbelievable. This would largely stem from the source novel from Franco, who seems to make his business in being weird/alternate but Coppola shows enough here to suggest that he could’ve done more to make the material better.

What Coppola does succeed in is in her direction of her young cast, while supports Nat Wolff and Zoe Levin don’t do a lot to suggest they’ve got a career ahead, with Wolff in particular an incredibly annoying presence (how his been cast in so many movies since this effort is beyond me), young leads Emma Roberts and son of Val, Jack Kilmer show a real talent in their field. Roberts has long been a talent to watch (and much more bearable than her relative Julia) and her portrayal of confused April is a great piece of work while Kilmer as similarly wondering Teddy suggests he may one day to achieve the success of his father, with hopefully his father’s weight gaining fall. Author of the novel himself Mr. James Franco also makes an appearance in what is on face value an on screen version of himself as creepy older guy looking to gain a much younger girlfriend.

There are some nice touches to this film by Coppola, a keen eye for a nice shot makes you think she has a career ahead of her and some great lead turns by Roberts and Kilmer, but nothing could help such a cold and un-relatable piece of work ever become anything more than acceptable. We’ve been blessed over the years to have countless and memorable entries into the young teen/coming of age drama catalogue and with Palo Alto you’re much better off to find one of these, instead of watching this instantly disposable offering.

2 Grand Theft Auto playing Val Kilmer’s out of 5

10 responses to “Film Review – Palo Alto (2013)

  1. Good review. Thanks for spotlighting indie cinema. While uneven, I enjoyed myself with this one. You’re right though, it could have meant something more. Its themes were subtle but could have been embellished.

    You’re right about the cast too. I was impressed by Kilmer. I’ve always wanted a River Phoenix biopic. I think Kilmer could pull it off. What do you think? And I’ve been a fan of Roberts thus far. She was great on American Horror Story.

    • Yeh young Kilmer was really solid Dan, I would like to see some more of him in the future. Roberts as well to me seems like an actresses that could be anything given the right roles.

  2. Pingback: Film Review – Paper Towns (2015) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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