Palo Alto

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Gia Coppola’s directorial debut, based on the short story collection by James Franco, stunningly captures the complicated relationships, heightened emotions, and romantic highs and lows of adolescence. In Palo Alto, several stories of teenage life intertwine in a kaleidoscopic look at being young in modern day America. Shy, sensitive April (Emma Roberts) is the class virgin – a popular soccer player and frequent babysitter for her coach, Mr. B. (James Franco). Teddy (Jack Kilmer) is an introspective artist whose best friend and sidekick Fred (Nat Wolff) is an unpredictable live wire with few filters or boundaries. While April negotiates a dangerous affair with Mr. B., and Teddy performs community service for a DUI – secretly carrying a torch for April, who may or may not share his affection – Fred seduces Emily (Zoe Levin), a promiscuous loner who seeks validation through sexual encounters. One high school party bleeds into another as April and Teddy finally acknowledge their mutual affection, and Fred’s escalating recklessness spirals into chaos. Propelled by true-to-life performances and a distinctly dreamy atmosphere built from a carefully selected palette of music, color, and style, Palo Alto rings true with the genuine subtleties that capture high school life. (Dir. by Gia Coppola, 2014, USA, 100 mins., Rated R, Tribeca Films) Digital