Jack is a scrappy fifteen-year-old, growing up in a rural town and looking down the barrel of another bout of summer school. Burdened with an oblivious mother, an absent father, and a violent bully, Jack has learned to do what it takes to get by. After his aunt falls ill and a runty younger cousin comes to stay with him, the tough teen is set on a course to discover the importance of friendship, family, and looking for happiness even in the most desolate of circumstances. [Synopsis courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival]
Palo Alto weaves together three stories of teenage lust, boredom, and self-destruction: shy, sensitive April (Emma Roberts), torn between an illicit flirtation with her soccer coach (James Franco) and an unrequited crush on sweet stoner Teddy (Jack Kilmer); Emily (Zoe Levin), who offers sexual favors to any boy to cross her path; and the increasingly dangerous exploits of Teddy and his best friend Fred (Nat Wolff), whose behavior may or may not be sociopathic. One of the strongest American directorial debuts of the past decade, Coppola’s film has a palpable sense of time and place, but her characters — seeking cheap thrills and meaningful connections — could be teenagers from any generation.