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Movie review: ‘Palo Alto’ a poignant take on troubled teens

By Sean P. Means

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published May 29 2014 03:03 pm • Last Updated May 31 2014 02:06 pm

The stories of disaffected teens in "Palo Alto" aren’t overflowing with originality, but the intense feelings evoked by first-time director-screenwriter Gia Coppola make the movie arresting to watch.

Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola and niece of Sofia Coppola) adapts James Franco’s short-story collection to depict the lives of high-school kids struggling with sex, peer pressure, alcohol, marijuana and absentee parents.

At a glance


‘Palo Alto’

Opens Friday, May 30, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated R for strong sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and pervasive language — all involving teens; 100 minutes.

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At the center are two teens quietly pining for each other: April (Emma Roberts), a virgin attracted to her attentive soccer coach (played by Franco); and Teddy (Jack Kilmer), a semi-alcoholic who’s swayed by his obnoxious friend Fred (Nat Wolff).

Coppola leaves the story mechanics a bit simple, but she’s great with the young cast of actors — the gamine Roberts (daughter of Eric Roberts), newcomer Kilmer (son of Val Kilmer, who plays April’s stoner stepdad) and the acerbic Wolff (son of Polly Draper) — who capture the ill-defined unease of teen life with tender poignancy.

movies@sltrib.com; www.sltrib.com/entertainment

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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