Film Review: Generation Um...A single, plotless day in New York in the company of Keanu Reeves feels like a life sentence.
The ultimate Lonely Guy in the Big City, John (Keanu Reeves) works as a
chauffeur to call girls Violet (Bohana Novakovic) and Mia (Adelaide Clemens). When not doing this, he does, well, nothing much. He wanders about New York, engages with no one, and broods about another birthday signaling his descent into—horrors!—middle age. He does, however, summon up the energy to steal a video camera during a flash-mob hula-hoop session (yes, I know), which seems incredibly out of character, but that provides the main action in this 97 minute-long ode to anomie.
Oh, Keanu, Keanu—what are we going to do with you? You’ve been adrift ever since you last Matrixed and now, approaching 50, is this the best you can do? You were such a comely lad, with your exotic part-Hawaiian looks and name when you started, the ultimate adorable Valley Boy in your breakout River’s Edge, those Bill & Ted films and camp classic Point Break. Stephen Frears let you go all Rococo in Dangerous Liaisons and you even did Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing.
But you have simply refused to grow up—or maybe you just can’t. (I, for one, would have nervously trembled under your “doctor’s” scalpel in Something’s Gotta Give.) And now, here you are in Generation Um…, perhaps facing this very dilemma onscreen in a work that might have trenchantly expressed some innate truths. But, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there still doesn’t seem to be any there there.
Given the prospect of a largely unscripted, meandering flaneur-a-thon throughout Manhattan featuring one actor, I would maybe go with someone like Paul Giamatti or Philip Seymour Hoffman. These guys seem interesting and smart in their own right and have serious improvisational skills and innate humor to perhaps carry it off. But you, Keanu, merely bring new mumble to mumblecore, and that is perhaps your greatest achievement, as well as the willful goal of your obviously star-besotted, audience-indifferent, debuting director/writer Mark L. Mann. The music is credited to Fall on Your Sword, which is exactly what anyone watching this might want to do.