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Adolescence is a time of confusion, a time of discovery, and a time of doing stupid things. Sometimes this makes for life lessons that are valuable, but mostly harmless. In other cases, it makes for lessons learned the hard way, with consequences that aren't easily forgotten. And in some select cases, they make for angst ridden commentary, compiled in a short story collection by an actor who dabbles in everything.
The very last option is the one that was exercised by actor/writer James Franco in his 2010 book Palo Alto: Stories A loose collection of episodic narratives, the book explores its titular neighborhood through several of its teenage citizens. Those very stories were based on Franco's own childhood memories, as well as others from people who submitted their stories to him. Four years later, we have a trailer to the film adaptation of that book, courtesy of Yahoo! Movies.
This film sports not only one, but three members of acting and filmmaking royalty: actress Emma Roberts (star of Scream 4, daughter of Eric Roberts), actor Jack Kilmer (in his debut role, son of co-star Val Kilmer and Joanne Whaley) and writer/director Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola). In her directorial debut, Ms. Coppola tells several stories of youth in disarray. All of these stories are anchored around a young girl (Roberts) who is involved in a rather illicit relationship with her soccer coach (Franco).
Sex, drugs, chainsaws, and alcohol are all present and filmed with a style that looks like it runs in the more contemporary branch of the Coppola family tree. Interestingly enough, similar subject matter was covered by Sofia Coppola in her debut film The Virgin Suicides, as seen in the trailer below. Note the similar usage of lighting, and teenage maladjustment.
All things considered, the trailer for Palo Alto tells a very fractured tale, much like the book itself. However, the same lack of narrative structure will not be found in the film adaptation. Franco, when commenting on how he would have handled the film (versus how it actually was made) said,
"If I had directed the film I'm sure I would have gone for the episodic structure. But now I can see that Gia's approach was better for the film version because it created more of an emotional arc that also had great tension."
It's not unusual for an author (especially one who's as experienced and interested in the filmmaking process as Franco is) to have some criticism over the finished product. That said, his creative differences obviously aren't irreconcilable with Ms. Coppola's, otherwise he probably wouldn't be in the movie. Palo Alto also stars Chris Messina, Nat Wolff, Keegan Allen, and Talia Shire. Tribeca Film will be handling the distribution duties, and the film scheduled for a limited release on May 9th.