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Generation Um...

2012 | R

Generation Um...


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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 03 May, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Generation Um...


Generation Um... Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, May 2, 2013

There are times when “Generation Um…” is an authentic indie production, and there are moments where it feels like a parody of one. At the very least, it’ll be the one film this year where the audience is treated to a sequence comprised entirely of star Keanu Reeves eating two cupcakes. Perhaps that alone should be a gauge to the must-seeness of the movie. For those who decide to stick it out, “Generation Um…” doesn’t reward the patience, supplying a meandering, intellectually shallow inspection of fried minds attempting to communicate their innermost pain while bombing around New York City. It’s a patience-tester, salvaged only a smidge by Reeves’s uncanny ability to remain perfectly still while his co-stars strap on acting school rocket packs and pinball around the frame.

It’s a brand new day in the big city, and John (Keanu Reeves) can barely summon his strength. A reserved man sharing a dilapidated apartment with his cheery younger cousin, John hits the streets on his birthday, ingesting cupcakes and stealing a video camera from a flash mob. John is making his way to the lair of Mia (Adelaide Clemens) and Violet (Bojana Novakovic), a pair of roommates nursing their alcohol and chemical addictions, who look to John for peace of mind. While the nature of their relationship is obscured, their bond is strong, with John using the camera to film life inside Mia and Violet’s dwelling, urging them to confess their greatest sins and deepest pain. As day turns into night, the trio exhaust themselves with emotional release, preparing them for another evening of soulless work.

I’m sure if writer/director Mark Mann was questioned about the origin of his film, he would undoubtedly share love for the experimental pictures of the 1960s, where pioneers like John Cassavetes gave birth to the idea of independent cinema with challenging endeavors concerning the darkness of human interaction and disillusionment, sold with a loquaciousness that permits the talent elbow room to shape characterization. The influences are present, but Mann doesn’t show the same clarity of thought, spinning his wheels with repetitive scenes of argumentative behavior or silent reflection, losing the point of “Generation Um…” the longer he lingers on nothingness. It’s a day in the life of enigmatic people, yet as layers are peeled away and self-destructive habits are vaguely understood, there’s still a nagging emptiness to the viewing experience that’s frustrating, forced to deal with a helmer who seems to be holding on to the production for dear life. I’m not sure how else I can explain three minutes of screentime set aside for cupcake consumption than to think Mann was making this up as he went along.

Before the camera is acquired, “Generation Um…” is something of a travelogue, following John as he walks the city streets, taking in the sights and sounds of his neighborhood after a draining night of supervision with his fractured female friends. It’s a stroll of ennui, with Reeves delivering pained coldness with ease, expressing John’s reluctance to accept this day, his birthday, as one he should participate in. Mann seizes the energy of the community and the banality of existence, but he doesn’t stop there and enjoy the shrouded view, absorbing the calcification of irony and the dread of old age. There’s a larger scab to pick at.

The camera is a truth serum for Mia, who purges her history of abuse and neglect for John and Violet, using video therapy to scrape out the soulful gunk and clarify her confusion. She’s a sad woman nursing a crush on Violet, partaking in her roommate’s desire to capture life inside their apartment as a reality show pilot, though one lubricated with copious amounts of wine-based logic and cocaine-fueled mania. As for Violet, she’s a wreck with a pronounced attitude, careless with sexuality and aggressive confrontation, spinning out of control for John’s camera. The second half of “Generation Um…” remains indoors, navigating crooked philosophy, pearls of empty-bottle wisdom, and questions of self, observing the three characters work through the sludge of their psyche one bad improvisation at a time. It’s interminable, yet not entirely unexpected. I just wish Mann had more profound revelations to share, as much of movie resembles a high school play run-through, permitting the cast to chew on commonplace misery.

“Generation Um…” works to a surprise conclusion of sorts, finally detailing why John, Mia, and Violet are seemingly bound together despite the absence of romance or friendship. It’s not much of a bombshell, but little about this movie tends to rattle viewer expectation as desired. Perhaps it’s a movie best left for cupcake enthusiasts.

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Bojana Novakovic, Adelaide Clemens, Jake Hoffman, Sarita Choudhury, Daniel Sunjata
Director: Mark Mann

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