‘Palo Alto’ is Gia Coppola’s directorial debut, based on a collection of short stories by James Franco. The story follows two narratives, a quiet, indie, ‘Renaissance man’ like teen; Teddy (Jack Kilmer) and an equally somber, deep-thinking football player; April. Both have their clichèd conflict. Teddy is entangled in the ‘misfit’ crowd, whilst April devotes her days to disturbing football coach Franco.
Despite Franco’s collection having a minor authentic raconteur, Coppola’s adaptation slashes any prudent excerpts with every eloquent phrase blundering carelessly. The characters are flat, lacking in emotions and unlikable, each never seen without a cigarette in hand or a dismal, self-pitying look upon their face. This ‘true’ teen portrayal, follows the priviliged, White, upper-middle class lives of a handful of teens, who’s main conflict concerns which of their peers to have sex with.
In Coppola’s defence, Palo Alto’s style is a bewildering visual delicacy, with fair forms, soft hues and a cool colour palette. The entrancing melancholy-ridden soundtrack completes the immaculate sensual experience.
Visually; a treat. Authenticity; elsewhere. In short; Coppola falls short of a life-affirming formative years commentary.