ACT­ING OUT Trans drama ‘3 Gen­er­a­tions’ a let­down

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

It has three gifted, bank­able ac­tresses – one play­ing a trans teenage boy, another a les­bian – but even the likes of Elle Fan­ning, Naomi Watts and Su­san Saran­don can’t al­low the new drama “3 Gen­er­a­tions” to ful­fill its po­ten­tial and tell the story that it should be telling.

In Gaby Del­lal’s long-de­layed film – open­ing May 12 in At­lanta – the tit­u­lar trio lives un­der one roof in New York. Fan­ning stars as Ra­mona, who – long re­al­iz­ing he is a boy – is tran­si­tion­ing to Ray and start­ing hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy. As he says to al­most ev­ery­one around him, he just wants to be nor­mal. His mother, Mag­gie (Watts), is track­ing down Ray’s bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther (Tate Dono­van) to per­suade him to sign the pa­per­work needed since Ray is a mi­nor. Mean­while, Ray’s les­bian grand­mother, Dolly (Su­san Saran­don), can’t un­der­stand why Ra­mona/Ray can’t just be a proper les­bian. Frances (Linda Emond), Dolly’s long-time girl­friend, is be­yond tired of hav­ing the en­tire fam­ily in one home.

When it screened at the 2015 Toronto Film fes­ti­val un­der its for­mer name, “About Ray,” the film bowed to a poor reception and caused its dis­trib­u­tor, The We­in­stein Com­pany, to pull it from a theatri­cal re­lease just three days be­fore it was sup­posed to open. It’s nice that direc­tor and co-writer Del­lal and The We­in­stein Com­pany be­lieved in the project enough to play with it and add some scenes, but it’s still light­weight and un­der­whelm­ing.

Del­lal and co-writer Nikole Beck­with have been work­ing on this for sev­eral years. Their com­mit­ment is ad­mirable, but it’s a poorly writ­ten film with clunky di­a­logue.

Fan­ning has emerged from her sis­ter Dakota’s shadow over the years and be­come one of her gen­er­a­tion’s bold­est ac­tresses. Luck­ily, she has grav­i­tated to­wards in­de­pen­dent fare more than su­per­heroes. It’s de­bat­able whether or not Fan­ning brings it off phys­i­cally, but emo­tion­ally, Fan­ning cap­tures the essence of what Ray is go­ing through. Saran­don is her usual fiery self. Even when her character is trad­ing wise­cracks and wad­ing through inane di­a­logue, she has an earthy ap­peal.

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