3 Generations review by Bobby Blakey
There are so many issues in the world right now, but one on the forefront has been about the rights of those struggling with their sexuality. One of the more complicated is that of those feeling they are in the wrong body and looking to find their true self via transitioning. The latest film to take on the subject matter is 3 Generations featuring an impressive cast including Susan Sarandon, Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts, Tate Donovan and Sam Trammell, but does it offer something new to the subject or will it not be a generation worth remembering?
3 Generations follows a family living under one roof in New York that must deal with a life-changing transformation by one that ultimately affects them all. Ray is a teenager who has come to the realization that he isn't meant to be a girl and has decided to transition from female to male. His single mother, Maggie, must track down Ray's biological father to get his legal consent to allow Ray's transition. Dolly, Ray's lesbian grandmother, is having a hard time accepting that she now has a grandson. They must each confront their own identities and learn to embrace change and their strength as a family in order to ultimately find acceptance and understanding. This is one of those films that offers up a topical and important subject and while offers up some great performances and a good story it never really does all that much.
To be clear this is a great movie for what it is, but maybe I was expecting something more impactful given the subject matter. The story is good, but never as compelling as it could have been mostly due to the lack of focus on one plot point. The struggle of this young girl wanting to embrace her inner sexuality and become what she feels she is inside was engaging enough. Fanning brings some great emotional moments and angst that is a blend of true inner struggle along with teen drama that just makes it worse. The family dynamic of her mother played by Watts and grandmother played by Sarandon is both funny and tragic, but the most interesting part of the film. They have so much to work with in this part of the story alone, but it gets a bit clunky when they have to start dealing with the absent father of the story.
It’s here where it felt like it went off the rails a bit to try and give more focus to Watts and her backstory, but in reality it wasn’t all that necessary for the overall outcome of the film. Sure it was the needed signature of the father, but they make it way more complicated than it needs to be for no other reason that the hopes to make more drama. In the end this is a good movie with great performances that will likely connect better with those dealing with these issues, but I felt there was a much better movie here had it been streamlined a bit more on it focus.