Welcome to August, and the seventh edition of The Franco Files! I’m back from my quick trip to Negative Town with TFF #6 (infamously known as TTFF by now) and let’s hope to not go there again ‘cuz that wasn’t much fun. As my friend Cara — yes, THE Cara of Silver Screen Serenade — put it, the last edition was a most definite dark blot on an otherwise rather diverse and impressive résumé held by Mr. James Franco.
But happy times, people. Happy thoughts.
A somewhat ironic transition, really, because when it comes to talking about this role of his, it’s almost anything but happiness for several of the characters surrounding him. This is perhaps a role that will also provide somewhat testy for people who aren’t already fully subscribed to the notion that James Franco is a great talent. He plays something of a snake in the grass here, there’s no getting around it. James definitely gets a bit slithery. But he’s good at this. See evidence in his take on Harry Osborn.
Francophile #7: Mr. B, Palo Alto
Role Type: Supporting
Character Profile: As the head coach of the high school girl’s soccer team, Mr. B finds himself quite the popular man on campus. Carrying an incredible down-to-Earth personality as well as the good looks necessary to garner the affection of some of his female student players, Franco’s is a supporting role that may overstep the boundaries more than any of the other wayward characters in Palo Alto, a movie adapted from his own book, Palo Alto: Stories. Mr. B takes a particular interest in April, the shy girl on his team who has yet to lose her virginity yet always seems interested in him. He also happens to be a single parent. If you’re looking for where the moral and ethical gray areas of the movie come into play, look no further than his disconcertingly charming soccer coach.
If you lose Franco, the film loses: one of the more compelling relationships in the film. Unfortunately, this thread isn’t quite as well-established as I feel it could have been. Franco doesn’t ultimately get a great deal of screen time, but that’s of a secondary importance to the quality of those limited minutes. (As well, that has less to do with the actor himself and more to do with how Coppola managed to filter down these many stories into a mostly cohesive narrative.) Within this fairly truncated time on screen, however, the man works wonders. He’s creepy, but he’s incredibly charming at the same time, to a point where you feel legitimate disappointment when he really and truly crosses a line. If you get rid of Franco’s talents in this role, the relationship changes completely and while it remains interesting to see what others might be able to make out of this little space, there’s no denying Franco inhabits it oh-so-perfectly.
Out of Character: ““There were a couple scenes that ended up not being in the movie, where I was being this reprimanding teacher. I just felt like, oh, man, what a bummer! I identified with the young kids.”
Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):
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