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The Tribes of Palos Verdes

A sad family breaks apart in a beautiful place

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A move from Michigan to tony Palos Verdes, Calif., is the catalyst for a family breaking apart, in Brendan and Emmett Malloy’s drama. Palos Verdes may jut into the crashing Pacific Ocean, but it’s a homogenous place, dotted with Spanish-tile-roofed mansions and inhabited by beautiful homogenous wealthy people. Dad (Justin Kirk) loves it — so much so that he takes up with a local real-estate agent, sending his depressive wife (Jennifer Garner) into a downward spiral. The kids — 16-year-old twins — adapt as best they can; popular Jim (Cody Fern) finds solace with a drug-taking crew, while quieter Medina (Maika Monroe) takes up surfing. Things get worse, in ways that are predictable, but the film unfolds so languidly that it ultimately feels more sad than melodramatic. We see it all through Medina’s eyes, which are soon enough turned away from the overbearing social structures of Palos Verdes, and toward whatever other wilder, freer worlds exist beyond the ocean.


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