The Tribes of Palos Verdes is a timeless coming of age story with alluring landscapes and compelling performances.
It will reel you into a riptide of heartbreak, young love, and a girl’s journey through devastation to her own freedom. Directors and brothers, Brendan and Emmett Malloy, juxtapose the crumbling Mason family with a seemingly ideal world of vibrant beaches, grassy cliffs, and beautiful people. The superficial social norms and artificially plastic faces and personalities of some of the locals create an emptiness in this otherwise serene beach town. The strikingly picturesque Palos Verdes Peninsula never seemed so dreary.
Medina Mason (Maika Monroe) struggles to keep her head above water as the chaos of her family life crashes like giant waves all around her. The Mason family made a big move from the Midwest to the scenic coast of Palos Verdes hoping that Phil (Justin Kirk), Medina’s father, could pursue his dream of becoming rich as a cardiologist to celebrities and the wealthy people of Los Angeles. Little did they know how the temptations and materialism of this new, seemingly bright, environment would shatter their already collapsing family.
As the story progresses, we watch each family member rupture under the pressures of their new home and the strain it causes in their relationships. Their old troubles resurface and Medina watches her parent’s marriage completely disintegrate. She does everything she can to hold her parents and brother, Jim (Cody Fern), together. Yet, as soon as her dad strays and selfishly leaves his family for another woman, the family falls apart and causes his estranged wife, Sandy (Jennifer Garner), to spiral deeper into her manic depression. Medina and Jim’s only escape from their broken home is their new found love for surfing. But, the pressures of this new reality soon catch up with Jim and he turns to the party lifestyle and abuses drugs and alcohol to help him cope with his
father’s abandonment and his mother’s black-hole moods. It isn’t until tragedy strikes that the family realizes the craziness that has enveloped them.
‘The Tribes of Palos Verdes’ eloquently captures the serene setting while illustrating the unhinged twists and turns of a family’s dysfunction.
This story wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful without the amazing performances from some incredible cast members. Garner draws a new perspective on what it means to have manic depression. The intricate indelicacy she brings to Sandy while she jumps from mood to mood is riveting. She will start by cursing at her husband, to begging him not to divorce her, to running around the house like an elated child playing with the light switches, to not being able to get out of bed for days. Monroe and Fern complement each others’ performances with realistic sibling chemistry. Their ability to sync with each others’ movements and thoughts with only a simple exchange of looks touches on the deep sibling bond they share. The beautiful ocean shots of Monroe absorbed in the waves and surfing brings an understanding to the audience of how this hobby provides a tranquil escape from their hectic home life.
The Tribes of Palos Verdes eloquently captures the serene setting while illustrating the unhinged twists and turns of a family’s dysfunction. The Malloy brothers touch on some of the most relatable and timeless fears: losing the people who are close to you as your family shatters around you. The Mason’s illustrate how the preconceived values of a so-called paradise can have a detrimental influence on a family despite the pristine and beautiful surroundings of Palos Verdes. Emotionally challenging to watch, yet pleasing to the eyes, The Tribes of Palos Verdes holds value for all audiences.
‘The Tribes of Palos Verdes’ is rated R for drug use, language throughout and some sexual content. 104 minutes. Opening this Friday at Laemmle Royal.