“Palo Alto” explores youth culture in the Bay Area

April 24, 2014, 11:58 p.m.
Courtesy of Tribeca Film.
Courtesy of Tribeca Film.

“Palo Alto,” a film by Gia Coppola, plays like a solemn love note to teenagedom. Based on James Franco’s “Palo Alto: Stories,” the film follows three suburban teenagers: Teddy (Jack Kilmer), April (Emma Roberts) and Fred (Nat Wolff).

The film is a hazy montage of the teens’ day-to-day escapades, which range from serving probation, to attending alcohol-fused parties, to jump-starting a relationship with a much-older soccer coach— played by James Franco— all set to an indie-dream soundtrack composed by Blood Orange (Devonté Hynes) and Coppola herself.

Underscoring shots of Teddy driving down his neighborhood’s lamp-lit streets and April balancing a cigarette between her fingers is the palpable weight of realism. Coppola does not judge: she observes her characters, giving them— even the minor ones— enough screen time to develop and to unveil, hidden in the lull of the mundane, the beautiful, woeful and sui generis intensity of youth.


“Palo Alto” screens at the San Francisco International Film Festival on May 3 at 7:30PM at the Sundance Kabuki in San Francisco. Director Gia Coppola will be in attendance. The film hits theaters on May 16.

Contact Madeleine Han at mhan95 “at” stanford.edu.

Seunghwa Madeleine Han '17 is a sophomore at Stanford interested in English, international relations and the intersection of technology and human communication. She is currently a contributing writer for music and a former news desk editor at The Daily. Contact her at mhan95 'at' stanford.edu to find out more.

Login or create an account