Generation Um ...: Film Review
Keanu Reeves plays the driver for an escort service in this drama of urban alienation from director Mark W. Mann.
Keanu Reeves continues his eccentric post-Matrix film career in director/screenwriter Mark Mann’s Generation Um .... Playing the emotionally shut-down driver for an escort service, the actor provides what little interest there is to be found in this otherwise aimless depiction of urban alienation.
Reeve’s character, John, is joylessly approaching middle-age. Spending most of his time ferrying his clients Violet (Bohana Novakovic) and Mia (Adelaide Clemens) to their various appointments, he’s clearly in a state of emotional stasis, signaled by his begrudging acceptance of a complimentary blow-job.
“You get to a point where your disappointment in yourself is so much bigger than your parents’, he says to a friend, shortly after receiving their birthday present of a $75 check.
His endless passivity is briefly interrupted when he impulsively steals a video camcorder at a city park. Randomly shooting urban scenes, he soon turns his attention primarily to the two women, interrogating them about their sex, drug and party-filled lives even while vainly imploring them to “try to say something interesting.”
That neither one is able to fulfill his request is but one of the film’s many frustrating aspects. While the impassive Reeves is able to make John’s inarticulateness vaguely interesting, a pervasive vacuum otherwise dominates the listless proceedings.
Making his narrative feature debut, the filmmaker attempts to add thematic depth to the goings-on via such devices as overheard radio news stories about the terrible state of the economy. But the meandering storyline and thinly drawn characters defeat such efforts, even if the gorgeous lead actresses at least provide some visual compensation.
Although it presents an evocative portrait of its seedy Lower East Side environs, Generation Um… is ultimately as uninteresting as its affected, stammering title.
Opens: Friday, May 3 (Phase 4 Films)
Production: Voltage Pictures, Company Films
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Bojana Novakovic, Adelaide Clemens, Daniel Sunjata, Jake Hoffman, Johnny Orsini, Sarita Choudhury
Director/screenwriter: Mark L. Mann
Producers: Alison Palmer, Lemore Syvan, Caroline Kaplan
Executive producers: Nicolas Chartier, Jared Ian Goldman, Cassian Elwes
Director of photography: Mauricio Rubinstein
Editor: Melody London
Production designer: Stephanie Carroll
Costume designer: Abby O’Sullivan
Composer: Fall on Your Sword
Rated R, 97 min.