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Review: ‘3 Generations’ Had Dramatic Potential But Tried Too Hard

Review: ‘3 Generations’ Had Dramatic Potential But Tried Too Hard


“3 Generations” missed an opportunity for greatness.

After Ray (Elle Fanning) decides to transition from female to male, Ray’s mother, Maggie (Naomi Watts), must come to terms with the decision while tracking down Ray’s biological father to get his legal consent.

Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 2.5

There’s a strong start with a strong cast. I immediately found myself engaged in the diverse characters and how they respond to Ray’s (Elle Fanning) decision to change gender. Susan Sarandon, Naomi Watts, and Elle Fanning all have a liberal, open-minded perspective with hinderances established from their generational gap. In the first act this lays the groundwork for dynamic character development and had me initially intrigued. Unfortunately the initial luster begins to fade as the film continues.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the performances as Sarandon, Watts, and Fanning all play well to what was scripted for their characters. But the script itself is where the problem lies as things become dull and stagnant. Much of the film lingers on the the motive of getting papers signed for Ray to have the sex change operation. This creates a lot of redundancy throughout and leads to some disingenuous, awkward dialogue. There’s one moment specifically where Elle Fanning is expressing her excitement to Naomi Watts by spontaneously jumping on the bed and laughing. The excitement seems extremely exaggerated given that there are not any new developments at this point. It felt as though emotion was being dictated rather than occurring organically.


“Sarandon, Watts, and Fanning all play well to what was scripted for their characters.”

Overall there was a lot of promise and build up based upon a proven cast and a plot that plays on strong social commentary. But while “3 Generations” had all of the tools to build a cinematic gem, it ultimately falls short.

Entertainment Value – 2

Without regurgitating much of what was said in the cinematic realm, the entertainment solely lies in the first act and the hope for promising possibilities. This is a dialogue-driven film with dialogue that remains dry. Even if there was substance to this film, the cadence of the plot and its long-winded nature would still promote a lack of interest for general audiences.

“3 Generations” could be condensed despite the hour and a half runtime. While the message is positive and relevant, the film itself seems like it’s trying to stall to make the subject matter worthy of your time.

Re-Watchability – 1.5

I don’t think I would ever give this film another chance, even passing as background noise. As stated previously, two-thirds of the film is comprised of unnecessary dialogue with a plot that remains stale after the first act.

  • Cinematics
  • Entertainment Value
  • Rewatchability


"3 Generations" seems like a poor attempt at recreating the family dynamic of "20th Century Women." With a strong cast and story that created vast potential, this film fails to take advantage of the tools at its disposal.

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About The Author


Ryan has been fascinated with film and pop culture since childhood. Throughout college he "played it safe" taking the more lucrative route of being a computer programmer while squeezing in film related courses where he could...but even during his post college career, he could never escape his true passion. After following one of his favorite blogs for a long time, he approached the site's Editor about writing and they reluctantly gave him a shot. He later became their Senior Writer which led to a variety of other projects, radio show appearances, features, and high profile celebrity interviews. Despite his success with blogging, he still wanted more so in order to expand his creative addiction, he merged his IT skills and blogging know-how to create which has continued to grow into a creative Mecca of pop-culture fun and integrity.   [email protected]    Film Fad

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