In this coming-of-age drama set in the suburban milieu of Palo Alto, California, an alienated teenage boy finds solace in his fantasies of military combat while trying to find his place in the world. Meanwhile, a dedicated teacher tries to reach out ot him.
"Memoria" (2015 release; 70 min.) brings the story of Ivan. As the movie opens, we see a guy walking into the Golden Gate Bridge. Is he thinking of jumping off? We then go back in time, as we get to know young Ivan, whose father, a Russian immigrant, has returned to Russia. Ivan's stepfather is the stern type, making awkward attempts to forge a relationship with Ivan. As Ivan grows older, he becomes even more distant from his mom and stepdad, and instead spends time with his friends. At this point we're 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the second movie that is based on James Franco's writings. In 2013 there was the okay "Palo Alto", and now this. As in the earlier movie, Franco plays a small role, as the HS teacher who tries to help out van. Franco has maybe 10 min. of screen time. Indeed, the focus is not on Franco, but on Ivan (played by Sam Dillon) and his HS friends, whose idea of getting through the day is to do as little as possible, while partaking in drugs quasi constantly. As Franco's character says: "I know how hard it an be to be a HS kid", and indeed we feel Ivan's pain and isolation. Ivan comments "I don't care what they think", but instead he does very much care, too much so indeed. An obvious question is why this movie is a mere 70 min., too short really to be a theater-ready full-length feature. Surely, the makers could've come up with, say, another 10 min. of material?
I had no idea that this movie was released (it premiered at film festivals in Fall of 2015, and then next spring went straight to DVD), and when I noticed it the other days at my local library, my curiosity was peaked and I had to check it out. It's not a bad movie per se, but neither is it all that memorable. The similarities between this and the previous "Palo Alto" are obvious, but "Palo Alto" is easily the better of the two movies.
From two short stories by actor James Franco (who also appears in this film), Memoria is the all-too-true story of a child brought up by a mother and stepfather who were well-intentioned by didn't deliver the goods as parents. If ever there was an example of why a child should stay away from dangerous drugs like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana, it's poor Ivan, who quickly becomes a slacker and waste of time as a productive member of society.
A well-written and told story, which really should be seen by everyone 18 and over. Sam Dillon gives a very convincing performance!
It was SOOOOOO dark that at times I could not identify faces, It makes it difficult to enjoy a story line and follow it when you cannot distinguish scenes, terrain, actors,etc. I am not sure what the nuance is with dark scenes even in daytime shooting scenes!! I am so tired of it and I will continue to state my opinion. I wish I had aborted earlier and not waste the time, but since it was a psych theme I keep hoping for a contrast to make a point in the story,,,,,,but , alas!!!!!NO!! Do not waste your time or money!!!