James Franco and Gia Coppola Team Up in the Trailer for Palo Alto

Slate's Culture Blog
April 1 2014 9:17 PM

James Franco, Teenage Angst, and a Coppola Team Up in Palo Alto

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James Franco and Emma Roberts develop a relationship on and off the field in Palo Alto.

© 2013 - Tribeca Film

Another Coppola has joined the cinematic fray: the new trailer for Palo Alto, Gia Coppola’s debut, was released earlier today. The director—niece and granddaughter of Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola, respectively—adapted her first feature from James Franco’s Palo Alto: Stories, a collection of vaguely linked vignettes about teenage life in the eponymous town. Franco is also in the film, as a seemingly sleazy soccer coach; Emma Roberts stars as the player who attracts his attention.

An inclination to eye-roll this one—to dismiss it as a well-connected director teaming with an overexposed actor—is understandable but premature. For one, though Franco suffers from a sometimes grating self-importance, his commitment to a role, whether it be a marooned biker or dreadlocked drug lord, is inarguable. Second, though the bildungsroman is a shopworn genre, every year a gem—last year’s The Spectacular Now, for instance—emerges with heretofore unseen insight, and the whole coming-of-age experience becomes new and bracing and impactful again.

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Palo Alto could be that film this year, as it opened to rave reviews on the festival circuit. Coppola, for her part, seems to have copped some technique from her aunt: the neon lettering, understated depiction of adolescent chaos, and wry teen-speak all bring to mind The Virgin Suicides andThe Bling Ring. We'll see if she can step out of her family's shadow come May 9.

Sharan Shetty is a writer for Brow Beat. You can follow him on Twitter

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