I enjoyed Palo Alto immensely. I usually find that the movies I like tend to feature an incredible twist, a singularly unique concept or an engaging depiction of small, day to day happenings. Palo Alto was the latter of the three - it’s detailed inspection of the lives of high schoolers didn’t contain anything particularly shocking. Rather, it highlighted the magic of every daily event. When Fred told Teddy that in medieval times he wouldn’t have been a king or even a duke, he was reiterating what this movie was all about; we’re all just people, but that’s important too.
I thought it was great how the characters tried to come to terms with their lives; while the students seemed confused, the adults did too. Fred’s dad and Franco soccer coach both seemed as conflicted and unsure as Teddy, Fred, Emily and April. I liked that the characters could do both good and bad things without becoming good or bad. Teddy messed up, but the old lady at the home he was volunteering at told him he was a good boy. April slept with Mr. B but that didn’t turn her into anything more or less than she was before - it simply served as a stepping stone past a relationship that seemed fairly poisonous. Characters could simply be and the people who judged others were depicted in the film as air-headed and laughable (here’s looking at you, ditzy girls who made fun of everyone).
What surprised me most, however, was Fred’s storyline - loads of films have a joker, and he was Palo Alto’s. But his side of things became quite a bit darker than I was expecting. This accumulated into one of the film’s most poignant moments, when Fred asks his weed dealer why he thinks being the male in sexual encounters is better or more powerful than being the female. For the first time in the movie, he seems serious and reflective and it was really interesting to see him trying to cope with thoughts and feelings that he hadn’t realized or accepted yet.
On a lighter note, the soundtrack fit the film really well, and Teddy in particular was an altogether cool character. If I was forced to give it a rating (and I’d rather not) it’d probably be somewhere in the seventy percentage. So far it’s one of my favourite movies of this year.