May 9, 2014

REVIEW: PALO ALTO (dir. Coppola)

From my Guardian review:—
'The general rule with movies about wasted youth seems to be that what you gain in authenticity of voice you lose in thrust of narrative: you can be unpatronisingly embedded in the plotlessness of teenage life, like Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, or you can jack the whole thing into something vaguely apocalyptic designed to catch the attention of parents, like Larry Clarke’s Kids or Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park and Elephant.  Coppola splits the difference, shooting with a style of candyheart impressionism borrowed from her aunt Sofia — a layering of sweet synth pop on the soundtrack with lots of slo-mo, and close-ups with narrow depth of field — that offsets any intimations of doom with a smattering of sherbet epiphanies. She’s too cool for wake up calls or alarm bells. The drunken disports at a party are treated to a burst of slow-motion — thrashing heads, fountains of rum punch —the images riding a knife-edge between the glorious and the grotesque, but the kicker is the aftermath: a pair of rabbit-embroidered socks sticking from the end of bed, as if in admonitory reminder: these kids were just kids a few years ago. The flora and fauna of their rooms include teddy bears and lipstick. Coppola has inherited something of her aunt’s eye for cool composition. She loves to pose Roberts against repetitive, bland, pastel-colored surfaces: a locker-room, a row of toilet cubicles, the prefab blockish architecture of her school, the aquamarine of a swimming pool (still the backdrop du jour for disaffected youth, along with fish tanks, 40 years after The Graduate) until Roberts’ pale, luminous beauty pops. She could easily be one of the suburban sphinxes from The Virgin Suicides, but for the vividness of her reactions. Hurt when Teddy absconds for a blow-job with someone else, April retreats to her room to practice imaginary brush-offs  — “I don’t care…. Whatever….” She’s more easily bruised than she lets on.'  

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