Generation Um... (2012)

Written by truthandbeauty on June 17, 2013

Plot: it's not so much about plot, as it is about mood... and the passing of a day in the life of 3 lost souls...

Review: I found it quite a powerful statement- kind of a slow moving portrait of a dark mood, a lingering dissection of feelings of weakness and powerlessness-- it was hypnotic and flawed and a completely unique piece of cinema...kind of a character study of a hangover in a way, both the real kind and the spiritual kind...

It is also exciting and refreshing to me to see such a huge movie star like Keanu Reeves play such a vulnerable role in such a small risky piece of art--

as I looked at some the other reviews for generation Um... it occurred to me that many of the "critics" seemed to be criticizing the movie for not being what they wanted it to be instead of looking at it for what it is, a somewhat personal interpretation of a particularly difficult "mood" that maybe doesn't make you feel good, but definitely makes you feel strongly--- the entire film seems to me to be, as the title suggests, a cinematic representation of "an audible pause" and also an experiment in stripping context out of the storytelling process and letting the slow reveal of character truly rule the experience of watching a film--filmmaker Mark L Mann certainly captured something very unique in this film - and it seems to me that this sort of project should be encouraged rather than condemned by these so-called "critics" who put themselves out as "authorities" on the world of cinema. 

I think it's only fair to suggest checking out the many thoughtful REVIEWS by ACTUAL VIEWERS on IMDB and iTunes-
so that it can be known that these Critics' unpleasant attitude toward this film might not include everyone...

and people can be encouraged to not miss out on experiencing this film for themselves.


Don't force it, 11 May 2013

from United Kingdom 9/10 Stars I'm not sure what the expectations were with this film, but I've been surprised by some of the reviews. Within the first few minutes of the movie starting, I felt a familiarity with all the characters. I can't say I particularly liked them, but I recognised the three disaffected lonely people finding some kind of solace in each other's marginal and dysfunctional lives. As someone else mentions, the film reads like a documentary: the dialogue feels very improvised and the film is not so much a plot-driven story, but rather a slowly unfolding short-lens view of three emotionally immobile people finding some kind of connection together over the course of a single night. Laconic, thoughtful and locked in a state of stasis, Keanu eats up the character of John, an inarticulate downtown 40-something whose job is chauffeuring two drugged-up young escorts, Violet (Bojana Novakovic) and Mia (Adelaide Clemens) around town. The pace remains even throughout, seducing you into feeling you're watching a one shot movie, as the night brings ever-increasing and intimate interaction with each character's search for an emotional cleanse. Noisy though the growing pains are, this they receive, however transient.

A Day in the Life, 10 May 2013
 from United States 9/10 Stars

Initially after watching I was confused as I could not understand what was happening to the characters in the movie. Once I finished the movie, it began to make sense. I was surprised. This is not a movie that one understands initially after viewing. It is like peeling an onion. After watching the movie twice, I have learned a bit more about the what the symbolism means. Each member of this pseudo family reveals a little bit more about themselves, which takes time to develop. The director and the actors are patient as the undertones of the movie are revealed one by one. It is through this patience that one learns of the real issues that face each member of this cast.

Inspired by Uninspired Characters, 9 May 2013
 7/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** The film captured my attention, not with action or adventure as one might expect of a film starring Keanu Reeves (although there was an adventurous moment or two that kept me on edge for resolution), but with its ability to draw out emotion and deeper "meaning of life" type thoughts from the viewer through character development. It was also a clever concept; it was a documentary-style film -- taking the viewer through a day in the life of someone who, in turn, is capturing a day in the life two others -- camera on camera action. It is not a familiar or usual "day in a life" for the majority of population, but many of the thoughts and feelings expressed by the characters are familiar or at least have been at some point or another in our lives. 

The film's viewers discover the lead characters' inner thoughts through conversational dialog and even question-answer dialog as the documenter (20-30-something male) is filming the two documentees (20-30-something females), delving deeper and deeper into the girls minds, and thus, the story became more and more interesting. Furthermore, the documenter was seemingly finding inspiration in his efforts to learn more about the girls' thoughts and possibly even learning more about himself. What was more captivating was during the many moments of silence, no dialog, the characters' expressions and actions revealed even more about their thoughts and feelings. I started to develop a connection with the characters, even though my life is not at all like any of theirs. This film is complexity masked in simplicity – it is easy to follow but has complex themes and feelings – thus making it hard to stop watching. 

Throughout the movie, I developed various feelings for the lead characters, leading lives that I could not and wish not imagine for myself, but knowing that there are people out there in such environments and predicaments as the settings in this film. I found myself wanting to know more and more about the characters. My feelings for them were first of disgust due to lack of empathy for their plight. Then, as the film went on, learning more about the lead characters' inner thoughts and emotions as well as lack of emotion, my feelings morphed into that of hopelessness and sorrow for them, developing a genuine caring for them. Out of my feelings of hopelessness and sorrow came hope -- hope that the characters will find their way out of their loneliness and discontentment, thinking that the three of them were drawn together by their shared sorrowful feelings and longing for something different, something more, and it's the three of them that will pull each other out of their plight by inspecting each other more closely "under a camera" -- discovering each other and in effect, discovering themselves.

The three lead characters are related on more and several levels than just friends (with possible benefits). In watching the film, one learns that there are layers of meaning and purpose in friendship and ideas on how to discover them, which I believe we all can find inspiration in and benefit from in our lives. 

I did indeed find this film somewhat inspirational even though it was not a hopeful resolve. And say kudos to the actors and director for portraying uncomfortable-to-watch characters in an uncomfortable setting, and furthermore, for transforming the "uncomfortable" into feelings for them and maybe even thoughts we don't usually think in our own lives that may make us think more.

Some of those who wander ARE lost., 27 August 2012

 from The Hague, Netherlands 7/10 Stars Low user ratings are to be expected when the names of Keanu and Bojana fuel edge-of-your-seat anticipation. This however documents (partly videotaped by Keanu's character) a 24 hour stretch in the lives of three people who are beyond clueless, they don't even care if there is such a thing as clue, purpose or direction in life. They don't even bother to define the relationships amongst the 3 of them. They don't even care to find words to describe their feelings and their lack of any accomplishment gives new meaning to the word void. I do believe this to be a socially relevant document of the lives of some of the 20- or 30-something generation who are one level below the entitled ones. It's there, it's real, no comedy nor drama, but it did powerfully communicate awareness to me as a viewer.

breathtakingly authentic, 8 January 2013

from Germany, Berlin 10/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** I try not to make this a spoiler, but I have to say that they might as well have called it a documentary...though the actors are mere placeholders for a phenomenon i guess. I have travelled a great deal around this world and had nights like the one shown in this movie quite many everywhere i went, though most of the people involved were not sexworkers. Uncountable conversations with glasses of whine, mostly without cameras though ;-),with people like me, randomly ending up in the same space for a limited period of time, living in the "grey zone"- a.k.a life. This film is a mere description of how blurry time, space and relation to what is perceived as reality and the suffering within it becomes sometimes, when you are stuck between awareness and maturity. My compliments to the director, the girls and Mr. Reeves. Somebody seems to have understood something. And its funny too!!! 
 Edgy NYC indie flick, 27 December 2012

 from United States 10/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** I can believe that this movie wont be released at your local multiplex but it is an interesting account of 24 hours in the life of sex workers in NYC. Not an X rated movie by any stretch but more of a personal exploration of people that wind up in this situation and how their day goes. There are some edgy scenes of a sexual nature and when that includes one with Keanu Reeves that is a real attention getter. He is so achingly damaged and sweet in this role. Through his curiosity, and his sincerity, and his stolen movie camera, he is able to reveal some of himself and be a real friend for the 2 young women sex workers, without judging them. Not a feel good film. More about gritty pathos on the seamy side of NYC. I dug it.

The movie is not just for fun, 2 May 2013

from Saint Petersburg, Russia 9/10 Stars This movie shows the life that you don't want to know about. There is no desire to know it or to remember anything that happens in this life. Even though sometimes many of us feel the same way as the main characters do, regardless of what we are. We are ready to judge people, not many of us try to understand the deep reasons of their behavior. If we draw an analogy with The Matrix, John's destiny is a story of a lonely person who didn't know he was the one. Nobody believes in him, and he stops to believe in himself. But he starts revealing after realizing how much the two girls need him, even though these two are condemned by the society. Watching the movie was hard for me. I had a feeling that I'm watching a documentary. It confirms actors and director's high level of professionalism.

"Generation Um…" is a very subtle and clever movie with fine actor's work., 2 May 2013

 from Russia 10/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** "Generation Um…" is a very subtle and clever movie with fine actor's work. All characters of this story are very important even if they are absent in the shot (John's mother for example). Each role has certain semantic meaning. So what this movie is about? According to official short reviews it is about "three adults during a single day in New York City, one filled with sex, drugs, and indecision". But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The thoughtful viewer who isn't interested in action only, but in psychological and philosophical dramas also, will dig deeper. And after that it becomes obvious that the movie is kind of a very frank and shrill confession. Why the characters of the movie come to such point in their lives? The reasons are deep mental wounds, childhood complexes and bad experiences. And life apathy and inner uncertainty as a result of it . It leads to the point when the adult person drives himself or herself into a corner and immures all exits, destroying thereby all their life. The movie is about the importance of understanding yourself, throwing the past mistakes' weight off the shoulders, and forgiving people that caused those painful scars on your heart. The most important is to forgive and just love yourself at least a little, and try to spread the wings as a new nation and start over with a clean slate. It is still very important to understand that it's possible to start a new life at any age. That's why the main characters are in different age categories (around 20, 30 and 40 years old). As it is written in medical literature, "the forming of the positive motivation can increase probability of the patient's recovery". We can see their recovery even though it's painful and uncertain. Keanu Reeves notes in the interviews that the ending of the movie gives hope for the future.

What is the movie about?, 2 May 2013

from Ukraine 8/10 Stars What is the movie about? It's about loneliness in a crowd, probably. About pain. About hope. About proximity. The movie is about just one day, and about the whole life. It's as little as very much at the same time. The movie starts and ends same — the three friends come home from work. But the things that occurred during the day changing their attitude to themselves and to their own lives. They learn to trust. John has the rare talent to ask short questions and to listen carefully. It turns out to be very important, when you just listen and don't teach, don't advise, don't bring something up. John starts video taping as entertainment and ends up as a confession. And confession always clears the soul. Mark Mann shot a very intimate movie, and brought the viewer completely into the world where Mia, Violet and John live. This world isn't joyful and it isn't sad. It's real. The movie is for those who appreciate sincerity on the screen and who aren't afraid to pass others pain through themselves. It's for those who try to understand people living behind the standard morals. The favorite dialog in the movie is: - Just don't hate me because I'm beautiful. - I don't hate you. I'm just confused. Favorite shot: is the park water fountain.

A Good Art House Film, 28 April 2013

from United States 8/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** I decided to write a small review on this movie that I was able to watch recently. "Generation Um" is an art house film. I think that is one of the reasons why people gave it such a low rating. I mean it's interesting how someone would expect the movie to be one thing and then get something different from what they expected. This is art house, people, that is why certain camera moves were used, or certain views, or certain cuts. Art house films usually look like some guy next door filmed it and then montaged it in his garage. But it does not mean the story doesn't have a logic or purpose. I personally liked to look at these three people doing their things and see by their action what they are thinking. I mean, I just find it interesting to look at things as they are without having a simple direction that tells me "here's what's going on and here's what she is feeling", you know. Like when Mia goes for a walk and buys the flowers. Isn't it an example of what she feels after going out last night and dealing with all those men who just wanted to use her? She didn't need the flowers, she just wanted to make herself feel better because the guy at the store was so nice to her. But to see that you have to look carefully while watching. Or the scene with Violet and John when they hug each other. That was brilliant. How somebody would give it a 3 or 1? Did you see her face when they were standing between walls looking at each other? It's like she is literally begging for help. Her eyes and just the whole expression tells you "Please do something!". Oh, that was brilliant. And John, you can see he is ready to do anything for her right now but he is just standing there and staring at his shoes. I mean, these people just don't used to it. They used to yell at each other, not hug each other. So they finally hug. And you don't need any background music or special camera moves to show you how emotional this moment is. And there is a lot of moments like this. Seeing how they live these 24 hours can give you an information about how they probably lived before, why they got themselves into this and what hopes they have for the future.

Do we feel differently?, 3 May 2013

 from Russia 9/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** After watching the film I was thinking for a long time about this story, or should I say preview of the story, its background, it did not leave me indifferent. The characters fell deep into my heart and took their places there. I think I'm going to carry them with me everywhere as my life goes. Were we really so far? Here is Mia, who is building an emotional wall around the experiences of her childhood, and here is Violet, who is feeling the need for the warmth and intimacy of another person, all at the time when she dared to be herself, and have stepped through the fear that John will not understand and alienate. And here is John, who was looking at the world, the lives of other people from the outside. This hug wasn't easy for him, maybe for the first time in his life someone needed him so desperately. Did I ever have to worry about such things myself? No, my life is far from life of these people. But does it make us feel different from one another? While all three of them grow roots, I close my eyes and I see Mia buying daisies. Funny, I love daisies. It seems like this flower is all open for everyone to see, but it definitely is something mysterious about it. Surprisingly, John sees the water just the way I see it. To me it's something always changing but staying same at the same time. I guess that's it for right now. Let's see what else the movie characters show me...

It's complicated, 10 April 2013

from Vienna, Austria 7/10 Stars I really didn't want to watch this movie. The low rating is an absolute no go. But thanks to some user comments i saw a potential.

I'm happy that i took the chance. It's a movie about life in a certain age - my age. Maybe thats the the reason i liked the movie. It was true. I had a good feeling watching it. I didn't always like the way the camera was moving, but in the end it gave the movie an innocent touch.

This movie takes you into the life of some people you get to know just a little bit. it's like going to a party and listening to other peoples conversations without yourself interrupting. It's a pure view of the world in the eyes of John, Mia and Violet. It's so pure you see their skin 'unphotoshopped' and thats refreshing.

I often feel being betrayed or lied about how things look like, how people look like or how locations, bars, streets look like. All the lights, all the make up, all the color boosts... sometimes its just too much.

To view a movie about kind of a real life story - it's a nice idea to do that with real faces, real streets, real situations. And with that comes no explosion, no special close up event, no beautiful candle light sex scene... etc..

That said, this movie is definitively underrated. If you like Lost in Translation or Vicky Christina Barcelona - you may like this movie too. Just don't expect beautiful colors, perfect romance or a Hollywood type movie in general.

Good movie. Not one of Keanu's cineplex-type efforts., 8 February 2013

 from Australia 8/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** I had mixed expectations going in to this film. On the one hand, there was the generally poor showing on IMDb (low rating, several dismissals as boring/uneventful), the relatively bland poster (which conveys little except that the film features three beautiful people) and a pretty uninspired title. But on the other hand, I enjoyed 'Henry's Crime' and '...Pippa Lee' a lot, and so the idea of another non-action-based Keanu film seemed like a reasonable prospect. In the end, I was very glad a took a punt. I liked this film a lot.

'Generation Um...' relies very much on character, dialogue and story, rather than action or suspense. Anyone going in looking for a Keanu cineplex-type effort will certainly be surprised - and probably disappointed. The pace is very deliberate - but it's all relevant, and it all contributes to the film's effectiveness. If a film is to convey the sense of a lifestyle convincingly, it has to follow its subjects through the dull, solitary periods as well as the lively ones. This film does just that and as a result provided a comprehensive picture of the three main characters. You are left with a strong sense of how each of the three got to where they are, how they feel about where they are and how their lives might play out from this point.

The relatively simple story unfolds in just the right way. The significance of the opening scene, and the way each of the three characters spends the following day is only revealed toward the end. The way these things were revealed was great - suddenly, each character's behaviour throughout the rest of the film (even the vacuousness of the first few scenes, which was pretty hard to take the first time through) made good sense. Then the film ends more or less where it started - and you're left with the feeling that these people are doomed to carry on behaving the same way day after day until age, physical decay or poverty pushes them in an even less appealing direction.

All in all, a very satisfying film. I recommend it highly.

Generation Um, 3 May 2013
from Kazakhstan 9/10 Stars We often want to see emotional positivity, superficial pleasure, sometimes deceptive impressing movies only. But life is more cruel, more actual, and more real at the same time. In the movie "Generation Um" I see unattractive kind of life, but suddenly I understand that even in the heavy moments of this people should keep hope and remain human. This movie is a narration about hope which helps us to live and go further. The film shocked me, because obviously lonely heroes and it is so close to all of us, but the hope and love of life in the last scene of the film talks about the need to believe in a better and humane in all situations.

This film had to be made., 3 May 2013

from Russia 10/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** I am afraid I'll start saying in a roundabout way to reveal my thoughts about the film... A person is moving through the life blindly by touch. We always try to create comfort around ourselves, more often we do it unconsciously and instinctively. If we like something we want it to stay with us, if something irritates and makes us angry – we try to distance from it or leave it. Sometimes we feel by touch, sometimes - by heart. The older we are, the more comfortable place we get. Even a looser has an old beloved sofa which he enjoys sleeping on after a hard day; he's got a couple of good friends with whom he would have a drink or two. So, we have intimate friends and family, our fixed ways and favorite food, our homes developed to our tastes; someone is lucky to have a favorite job. We know well what type of people we'd better avoid or never go to bed with. Thus, we create our own world in which we feel ourselves relatively comfortable, someone feels more comfortable and someone less. But it is a trap to the soul. We are too busy with our everyday life, just with the things around us. We can't reach to a point where we could see eternal depth of the universe, we can't even feel the height of the place where we are standing. The holy mysteries of life pass by. But when a person starts asking questions, searches someone's heart, tries to understand people from inside, they can save themselves from the consuming emptiness and avoid the feeling of useless life and going nowhere. The search is the only way to be saved. This is my perception of the world which I saw in the film all in details. That is why the film is a true shock to me. "Generation Um" is like a cake layered with signs and symbols, questions and answers. The film has many points, the most ironical one I would put like this: no matter how long you will search in your heart (conversations between friends throughout the film), but you might be f***ed up by your life one day anyway (the girls at the hotel). Even though the things are this way, there is always a place for happy moments (the scene in the credits). But this harsh generalization isn't correct for that film, because every episode of it, even a small one, has a high concentration of meaningfulness and it generates multitude microcosms. This film had to be made. It is a guide for those who lost the point and depth of their lives, stepped on the way of search. "Generation Um" says to them that they are not alone.

loved it, loved it, loved it., 22 April 2013
 from Romania 9/10 Stars an almost unexpected surprise in today's world focused only on feel-good movies. a multi-layered little gem. a story about loneliness, disappointment, pain, despair, and ways to cope with all that. a story about human connection and lack thereof. a story about games of power, seduction and domination. a meditation on how people behave in front and behind a camera. And the camera becomes a fourth character; a silent witness that's central to the plot; a fourth player that changes the rules of the game. it's a story about finding hope - or not. no,it's not everyone's cup of tea. yes, it will make most viewers uncomfortable. but those who have patience with this movie will be rewarded with a story that sticks with them for days. it's haunting. as long as such movies can still be made, there's still hope. it means the moviemakingmagic is still alive. 
 Um...Well I liked it, 29 April 2013
from United States 7/10 Stars *** This review may contain spoilers *** despite the negative reviews this movie has been getting on here. I actually like this movie and just wasn't all that bored with it. In fact I found this movie to be random but still got my attention and interest. It's basically about 3 people's typical mundane life in New York City. And although for the most part the movie appear to be mundane, the realism and certain aspects of this movie makes things interesting. Watching this movie was sort of like watching the days and the life of Keanu Reeves if he didn't become a actor. In fact this is one of those movies for a actor or actress where no acting is required. It just seemed like for the most part Keanu Reeves was just being himself. Except a much more dyslexic version of himself and probably much more quieter. In fact he sort of reminded me of "Napoleon Dynamite" in this film. And he has 2 annoying slutty girls that has daddy issues tagging along with him and they basically share everything with each other. In fact Keanu's character is sort of a pimp in this movie, just not one of those really bossy ones. And the girls are the one's that boss him around. Anyways Keanu's character John in this just does some random stuff in this movie like eating a cupcake and stealing a camera and such. Than goes around filming random stuff but these traits brings out his character. Not a lot and he has a mysterious vibe thing going on because he doesn't really talk much or about himself. But than again that is basically Keanu Reeves himself. Anyways the most interesting part about this movie is when Keanu starts interviewing the two girls he is with. And when it comes to these two slutty junkie and smug girls. One of them is this extrovert and the other sort of introvert. And when it came to the actresses one of them reminded me of Carla Gugino and the other Michelle Williams. And share some real, raw and interesting inner thoughts. One of it is how one of the girls share her thoughts about how "men are after power, while girls are after love". As opinionated as the sharing of thoughts between the characters maybe it was still interesting and intriguing. This is one of those raw movies where realistic acting is involved and seems like the actors and actresses are basically doing ad-lib. And just seem like real everyday people in NYC and how they act amongst each other. I can see why some audiences would not like this film but I liked it for what it is. It's about the mundane and sort of average life of a New York City guy and girls connecting with one another while showing a bit of each others inner thoughts and scars. It's not one of the best movies I seen of this type but it's a well made one.

iTunes User Reviews

Um…haunting 5/5 stars by 11milez – April 28, 2013 Few films lately have hung on to me so tightly the next day as this one did. It slowly oozes in, and left me with a haunting feeling, a feeling of a past life I no longer wanted to live. Made me want to move forward and really do something and not sit and stew about all that is wrong, unfair. This a truly unique movie. One not all will appreciate. It taps into the blandness we all feel when feeling hopeless, in life, in our jobs, not striving for something more. We can sit around, do nothing and talk about it or we can take action. Mann captures wonderfully realistic mundane moments that we've all experienced in one way or another before, but no one has been brave enough to make a movie about them––until now. Those days we take for granted, and overwhelm the majority of our lives, until we can't take it anymore and make a positive change.

WHOA 5/5 stars by ljasdf12213sadf – May 4, 2013 What is friends? That's really the central thesis of this tale about three lost souls swimming in a fishbowl year after year. Alas, this movie could also be about the inner workings of a call girl organization and their meandering, hopeless pawns in the game of sexual chess. Or it could be about petty theft. Either way, this movie is outstanding in its achievement in the field of excellence because the viewer chooses what they can get out of the movie rather than the director feeding you a linear, mindless story. If you have a limited imagination, you will have a narrow scope as to what you can decipher from this movie. That being said, a lego block is merely a piece of plastic to someone who cannot see what will become of it. So, what is friends? A good movie.