I can’t help but fall for this movie because director Gia Coppola’s visual sensibilities (lush, modern, Scandinavian simple) are right where I am at, and so similar to her sister Sophia’s style who is one of my favorite directors. So perhaps I am a bit biased, yes. Truthfully, this movie could have been better. It is without a doubt a debut feature and certain scenes make that very apparent; wildly uneven at times, a bit awkward in a “how did you NOT cut that scene out completely?” kind of way, and ever so slightly cringe-worthy a few quick moments. But where she lacks at times as a newcomer she more than makes up for it with a visual style that she still makes all her own, by creating a world that you can place yourself in. Something about it makes it just a bit more relatable than what her sister puts on screen – which is always a bit more alien comparatively. And there is just something about the kids in this movie – she seems to have an insight into them like I haven’t seen since the fantastic ‘Freaks and Geeks’ television show from over 10 years ago now. Sure these kids are young and like to get in trouble and party all the time, but that is not who they are as people. We don’t delve too deep into their characters, but Ms Coppola does enough to raise them a few notches above any cliches you can think of regarding teenagers in film. They are not dumb teenagers. They are simply teenagers – people – who are still learning, through experience and observation, and she puts that on the screen quite impressively, and without being overly dramatic. This is after all a bit of a mood piece from beginning to end. Even though these kids are more half my age and 3000 miles away, they are still relatable, because of how the characters are written. Their feelings, their emotions, they are real, and they are common. I’ve not read the book of the same name by James Franco that this is based on (he also stars here), even though it’s been on my bookshelf for quite awhile, but on top of Ms Coppola’s skills here in adaptation, the performances were also top notch and lay the foundation for this film’s success. Jack Kilmer (son of Val) has some sort of special screen presence that I really can not pinpoint why it was so effective, but he along with Emma Roberts, and Nat Wolff who played the part of Jack’s sidekick friend was fantastic as this manic, funny yet annoying to the point you think he’s a bit of a head case sort of kid – they were all what really brought this movie together. Again, it’s a debut. There are faults, and who knows what’s next for her – but taken as a first effort, its a beautiful way to debut and it shows a lot of promise for her future. And wow – that really was Colleen Camp (Clue!), and Talia Shire. Though why am I surprised, she’s Francis Ford Coppola’s sister? Doy yoy.