Palo Alto

First Hit: A very well acted film about young people finding their place.

April (Emma Roberts) is a sensitive girl who has a crush on her high-school soccer coach Mr. B. (James Franco). The desire is mutual.

Teddy (Jack Kilmer) is a “stoner” whose mom is not very attentive of her son and his exploits, which partially results in behavior that is somewhat destructive. His closest friend Fred (Nat Wolff), is a self-absorbed guy who is always trying to make trouble with everyone as a way to be the center of attention.

The story is mainly aimed at how April and Teddy have experiences that help them to take another step towards growing up. The thing that stood out most about this film is that it felt very accurate about how young people deal with, talk about, and process the information given to them about their lives. The script and direction was very strong which gave this film its feel of authenticity.

Roberts was really good at being the girl who is on the fringes of the popular group but attempting to find what will create happiness for herself separate from the group. Jack Kilmer was also strong at being the guy who wants to be popular, hangs with the most troubling guy to push his cred, and finally settles into is art which where his soul resides. Val Kilmer has a small part of Roberts’ step-father and his stoner ways exemplify the lack of direction kids were getting from their parents in this community. Wolff was strong as the kid, we all knew, from high-school who always pushes the boundaries of the law, good taste and good behavior. Gia Coppola wrote and directed this film with a skill, expertise and eye for the subtleties of the struggles of being young.

Overall: This is a strong film and worth seeing.