Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"Palo Alto": It Takes the Offspring of Coppolas, Kilmers, and Robertses to Realize the Vision of Franco 

Wednesday, May 14 2014

There are reasons to resist Palo Alto. Foremost, yes, it's another James Franco product, adapted from his short-story collection and built around an uncomfortably snug-fitting role for him as a high school girls' soccer coach with predatory tendencies. Beyond that, you might already feel leery of a movie made by Francis Coppola's granddaughter starring Julia Roberts' niece and Val Kilmer's son. Will it help to be assured that Emma Roberts generates more electricity from this than from all the other films she's been in; that Jack Kilmer has screen presence in spades; and that one way Gia Coppola deals with privileges is by recognizing and revealing their limits? Sensitivity to the inner lives of bored and troubled teenagers is sort of a Coppola family business, and also, historically, a thing we keep wanting our movies to have. What's more, to situate the intense yet strangely immaterial vicissitudes of adolescence within the brimming field of Francology seems like a brave and reasonably useful project, especially since Coppola stays so commendably clear-eyed about the creep factor and the lonely desperation underneath it. This is a movie whose action amounts to its characters spending time being in moods. Also including Nat Wolff as a volatile troublemaker, the cast coheres even as the story doesn't, quite; it's gently done, if also underdone. But then, by being so light, it rises above any reasons to resist it.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"