Based on James Franco’s short stories, Palo Alto marks the directorial debut of Gia Coppola, granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola, and niece of Sofia. It’s the latter who seems to have exerted the most immediate influence (you can’t miss the Virgin Suicides poster adorning April’s bedroom wall). A shimmering, limpid film about California teens coasting towards they know not what, Palo Alto may not break new territory but it certainly surveys the landscape with keen insight and humanity.
April (Emma Roberts) is the class virgin - shy, sensitive, but a popular soccer player and frequent babysitter for her single-dad 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.
"A knockout." Gavin Smith, Film Comment
“Palo Alto is one of the best movies ever made about high school life in America , blurring the lines between how unique it is to be a teenager, and how universal it is to feel like one." David Ehrlich, Film.com
"The best feature film directed by someone named Coppola in a number of years." Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter