Palo Alto: Gia Coppola’s Angst-Ridden Youth Tale, Starring Emma Roberts

palo_alto_posterThe filmic talent must run deep in the Coppola family as is shown by Gia Coppola, the latest director to have come from this distinguished three-generational clan, headed by Francis Ford Coppola.

World premiering at the 2013 Venice Film Fest to nice response, and playing at the Telluride and Toronto Film Fests, Palo Alto will be relased by Tribeca Films in April 2014




In this angst-ridden youth tale, Emma Roberts (Julia’s niece) is well cast as April, a shy and sensitive girl who’s her class’ virgin.   April spends her time playing soccer and babysitting for Mr. B. (James Franco), her single-dad coach.

Enter Teddy (Jack Kilmer), an introspective artist whose best friend and sidekick Fred (Nat Wolff) is an unpredictable guy obeying few boundaries. While April gets involved in a dangerous affair with Mr. B., Teddy performs community service for a DUI, secretly in love with April, who may or may not share his affection.

palo_alto_2_robertsMeanwhile, Fred seduces Emily (Zoe Levin), a promiscuous loner who seeks validation through sexual encounters.

On one level, the narrative unfolds as a series of high school parties, during which we get to know the protagonists and the parallel trajectories of the two central couples.

We know that it’s only a matter of time before April and Teddy finally acknowledge their mutual affection, and that a guy like Fred, whose behavior is defined by escalating recklessness, is inevitably bound to face chaos.

palo_alto_1_francoThe best compliment I can pay “Palo Alto” is to say that it’s a very assured directorial debut; you could not tell it was first film if you didnt know.

That said, Gia Coppola shows penchant for visual texture and mood rather than strong storytelling or sharp characterization (The work of her aunt, Sofia Coppola, is also defined by such attributes).


Running Time:  98 minutes

MPAA Rating: R