Review: Three Generations (2015)

Three Generations (2015)

Directed by: Gaby Dellal | 90 minutes | drama | Actors: Elle Fanning, Linda Emond, Susan Sarandon, Naomi Watts, Andrew Polk, Marcos A. Gonzalez, Antonio Ortiz, Tessa Albertson, Marquis Rodriguez, Gameela Wright, Jordan Carlos, Elle Winter, Lucca de Oliveira, Francesca Keller

It’s not easy to immediately love ‘Three Generations’, despite the capable helmsmen in the picture, being Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon (in that order). At first you think that director Gaby Dellal has made a promotional film with the American COC for the liberal women’s society, with lesbian rough guys (Sarandon/Emond), an interracial dating daughter who lives with her mother (Watts) and a transgender adolescent daughter (Fanning). It is never possible to click completely between the viewer and these ‘sisters’ with that schematic setup. Certainly not if the family traumas also have to be exorcised.

‘Three Generations’ ends up amidships in soapy waters; while the core principle – Ramona/Ray wants to change gender and needs the signature of both discordant parents to do so – must be implemented, the biological paternity of the child in question is once again disputed. The funny thing is that with all the chaos in the second half of the film, the right emotion also comes to the surface, so that the film falls somewhat into place as a transgender version of ‘Terms of Endearment’, although the generational conflict between the matriarchal Dolly (Sarandon) and her neurotic daughter Maggie (Watts) contrived to.

Barring a few sighs, ‘Three Generations’ is never boring and although Sarandon’s caricatural meddling-mom role can get on the nerves, New York is occasionally portrayed flattering and the acting is adequate, with the necessary chemistry. The always convincing Watts always compensates for scriptual emptiness with extra effort and Fanning sincerely believes in her role, which she shapes passionately. Fanning is therefore the modest star of this film. In the end, of course, blood is thicker than water, and at the end all the fighters – as is usual in this kind of feel-good – toast with each other.

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