Release Date: May 3, 2013 (Limited)
Director: Mark Mann
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 7.5/10
You’re sitting in a diner by yourself. You stop to look around and notice the other diners. Who are these people? What’s their story? You happen to eavesdrop on a conversation between a couple in the next booth. You notice it is getting heated. Who are they and why are they arguing? In the process you stop to ponder. Who am I, what am doing, what’s it all about, what’s the big deal? The characters that live and breathe in Mark L. Mann’s Generation Um… find themselves asking those very questions and we are along for the ride as they try to find the answers.
As the film opens we see three people in a beat up station wagon. It appears they have been out all night partying. Mia and Violet are carrying on a debate over the past tense of the word and act “shit.” Funny at first but it starts to become annoying. John, who’s behind the wheel, appears to be oblivious to all this noise but then he finally gets fed up and pulls over and tells the girls to get out. The film then follows these characters as they come in and out of each others lives over the next 24 hours. As the film progresses the characters are asking and facing life’s hard questions and choices. Meanwhile the viewer is left to wonder just who these people are and why should we care.
John appears to be loner. He eats at a diner alone where a waitress obviously has an interest in him but he doesn’t do anything about it and a friend points out he better make a move or he’ll miss out. He lives in a run down apartment with a cat who doesn’t like him and has his cousin’s living on the couch. Mia and Violet are roommates and they go through what most roommates do especially after a night of partying. Mia appears to be the nice quiet one and Violet is the party girl. How these three came together and what they did the night before are gradually revealed over the course of the film and the end result may very well surprise you.
These characters ask questions and face moments that are contemplative, awkward, hurtful and funny. In many instances Mann just focuses on a character just sitting there deep in thought. The viewer wonders just what are they thinking at this moment. One stand out moment is when John nonchalantly asks Violet if she remembers all the names of the men she has slept with. Violet just sits there and stares at him and Mann just holds the silence and the characters are still. She just stares and you wonder what’s going on and then she gets up and leaves.
The film features fine performances from the three leads Keanu Reeves as John, Bojana Novakovic as Violet and Adelaide Clemens as Mia. The performances come off naturally and almost seem improvisational. Bojana Novakovic is the stand out amongst them. Mann knows how to work the silence and his actors are able to perform it well. It is well written and directed.
The film will divide audiences. At first I wasn’t sure if I really liked the film. I didn’t care too much about anyone in the film. However as I continued to think about it the more I liked it. You will either go along for the ride or will check out early on. It is an effective drama that features natural performances and felt very real. The characters can be unsavory which I admit can cause an audience to tune out. However, if you’re willing give it a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised and when that ending occurs, to quote Neo “Whoa.”