The Tribes of Palos Verdes (2017)

The Tribes of Palos Verdes Poster

When the situation at her idyllic Palos Verdes home turns volatile, young Medina attempts to surf her way to happiness.

"The Tribes of Palos Verdes" is a 2017 American drama film directed by Emmett Malloy and Brendan Malloy, based upon the 1997 book of the same name by Joy Nicholson. The film stars Maika Monroe as the protagonist, Medina Mason, a teenage girl who seeks solace in browsing as her domesticity collapses around her. The movie explores styles of emotional struggle, familial disintegration, and finding one's identity amidst chaos. Embed in the wealthy neighborhood of Palos Verdes, California, the narrative juxtaposes the external beauty of the landscape with the internal chaos of the characters.

Plot Summary
As the Mason household transfers to Palos Verdes, an idyllic coastal town, below the surface, there's a gush of dysfunction and turmoil. Phil (played by Justin Kirk), the patriarch, is a heart cosmetic surgeon who has actually embraced a nonchalant attitude towards his crumbling marriage and emotionally strained kids. His other half, Sandy (played by Jennifer Garner), battles with psychological instability and is plainly tense with the relocation. Medina, their child, is a teenager attempting to browse this new life while her twin bro, Jim (played by Cody Fern), is combating his own satanic forces, turning to drugs to deal with his misery.

Medina finds a deep enthusiasm for surfing, which becomes her refuge from her disintegrating domesticity. The escapism she finds in the waves and the camaraderie with fellow web surfers stand in stark contrast to her home situation. However, the local surfing community, or 'The Tribes of Palos Verdes,' is not particularly inviting to outsiders and Medina has to defend her location both on the waves and within the social hierarchy of the town.

Phil's affair becomes apparent, resulting in him leaving the household for another female. This desertion tosses Sandy into a much deeper mental crisis. Her erratic habits and frame of mind intensify, affecting Jim more badly, which contributes to his downward spiral of addiction. Medina ends up being the hesitant anchor of the household, attempting to hold everything together while processing her own emotions and the obstacles of adolescence.

Styles and Characters
"The Tribes of Palos Verdes" thematically delves into the concepts of escapism and the pursuit of a peace that appears ever elusive in the chaos of domesticity. Medina is an engaging character, portrayed as strong and resistant, yet susceptible as she faces her evolving identity and seeks a sanctuary in surfing. The movie poignantly catches her battles and growth.

Similarly, the character of Sandy shows the raw discomfort of a mom who is losing touch with the world around her, including her children. Sandy's psychological health fight is represented with depth, revealing her inner turmoil juxtaposed with the outside look of a perfect life in an upscale neighborhood. Jim's descent into addiction highlights the distress and fragility of a young man who feels abandoned and does not have the coping mechanisms to deal with his household's problems.

Cinematography and Setting
The movie's setting and cinematography are standout aspects, recording the beauty of the California coastline, which mirrors the yearning for flexibility and tranquility that the characters seek. The visual storytelling boosts the movie's narrative, strengthening the contrast in between the picturesque environments and the complex inner lives of the characters.

In spite of its stunning setting, "The Tribes of Palos Verdes" is a movie entrenched in the perils of domestic strife and individual anguish. By using surfing as both a metaphor and a literal escape, it stresses the battles dealt with by a family on the edge of collapse, and a young woman's journey to find stability in an apparently picture-perfect, yet deeply damaged, world. The motion picture's psychological depth and poignant expedition of its characters' internal landscapes produce an engaging narrative that resonates beyond the screen.

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