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30 Nov 2017

In many ways, The Tribes of Palos Verdes is standard YA fare: poisonous suburban milieu, troubled family dynamics and a misfit protagonist, intelligent and resilient. Two key elements lift the movie beyond formula, at least for most of its running time: the particulars of the Southern California setting, with its extreme natural beauty and extreme affluence, and the strength that the central character, played with quiet ferocity by Maika Monroe, finds through surfing.

Like the source novel, the film excels at mood and sense of place over plot. Directors Emmett and Brendan Malloy don't give the story's doomier contrivances their intended impact, even with strong Tribes of Palos Verdes 2017 performances — notably Jennifer...