Review: Familiar ‘Memoria’ still makes its mark

Sam Dillon, left, and James Franco in "Memoria."
(Monterey Media)

Despite clocking in at a scant 70 minutes, the troubled-youth drama “Memoria” manages to make a hauntingly poetic impression.

Culled, like the films “Palo Alto” and “Yosemite,” from James Franco anthologies inspired by his formative years in Northern California, this collaboration by Nina Ljeti and Vladimir de Fontenay treads some familiar turf in its portrait of an aimless teen (played by Sam Dillon, and in earlier sequences, by Teo Halm) who’s heading down an ill-fated path.

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Failing high school and getting high as the chosen method for dealing with assorted bullies and a stern stepdad who tries to get him to man up by taking him deer hunting, the chronically truant teen seems barely present in his own life.


We have a fairly good idea of where this is all likely headed, but the sturdy performances, also including an effective Ruby Modine (Matthew’s daughter) as a Goth gal pal and Franco as a concerned English teacher, build on an authenticity that comes with the casting of Dillon, who appeared in “Boyhood.”

And while “Memoria” does occasionally feel like a truncated, coarser version of that Richard Linklater film, albeit with stylized departures into drug-fueled surrealism, it still adds something rather affecting, however brief, to the adolescent angst playbook.




MPAA rating: R for drug and alcohol use, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and disturbing behavior - all involving teens

Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica