Promising as it is, Palo Alto doesn’t always handle the signposts of adolescence all that subtly—and in the case of the ending, the signpost is made literal. One of the major threads in the movie is which way Teddy intends to take his life: Will he curb his reckless instincts and perhaps find some love and stability with April, or will he continue to hang out with Fred and get into trouble? The film answers definitively to the former in the end, when Teddy, freaked by an especially erratic Fred speeding through the night with a knife in his steering hand, asks to be let out of the car. Coppola then shows Fred entering the freeway via the exit ramp, driving full speed against the oncoming traffic. He ignores a big sign that viewers can’t miss: WRONG WAY.
The Reveal furthers the discussion of the film while providing a space for readers who have seen it to discuss plot-sensitive details. In other words: Spoilers ahead. Avoiding spoilers? Return to the review.