Artistic Teddy (Jack Kilmer, son of Val) cannot articulate his feelings for April (Emma Roberts, niece of Julia), who fills the void left by her distracted parents via a relationship with her soccer coach (James Franco.) Meanwhile, the erratic behavior of Fred (Nat Wolff), Teddy’s best friend with father issues of his own, spirals increasingly out of control when faced with the prospect of being left behind, as school “slut” Emily (Zoe Levin) searches for love the only way she knows how.
Adapted from the short story collection by James Franco, writer-director Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis, niece of Sofia) connects the lives of these affluent but troubled teens in this mesmerizingly assured debut. Combating listlessness and uncertainty with sex, drugs, and acts of self-destruction, the kids of Palo Alto exist beyond the film’s titular California city—they’re in every high school in America.
Venice Film Festival, 2013
Telluride Film Festival, 2013
Toronto International Film Festival, 2013
Tribeca Film Festival, 2014
“A formidable debut that shows amazing promise, and care.” —Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment
“One of the best movies ever made about high school life in America.” —David Ehrlich, Film.com
“Luminous… Coppola is a talent to watch.” —Jon Frosch, The Atlantic