“3 Generations” brings eye-opening conversation starters about gender, beyond the binary

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"3 Generations" DVD cover

Gaby Dellal and Nikole Beckwith’s film 3 Generations is at the heart of a holy trinity. Before there was the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, there was the Maid, the Matron, and the Crone — youth, experience, wisdom. This time, however, we’re in modern day Manhattan, and the Maid is about to become the Son.

This film has talent — Elle Fanning as Ray (nee Ramona), Naomi Watts as her mother Maggie, and Susan Sarandon as the proto-feminist lesbian grandmother whom with her partner Honey (Linda Emond) at times seems to be the only adult in the household.

This crazy quilt of generosity and love has a snag in the weft of the weave. Ray wants to transition from Ramona, and to do that, they need “T.” In order to get the prescription for testosterone, their absent and errant bio-dad Craig (Tate Donovan) must sign off in order for them to move forward. Yet the plot thickens with a surprise involving Uncle Matthew (Sam Trammell), and thus the chase begins.

The action is told in pieces, much as life is lived. This is a passion play — characters are fairly simple, but with complex swirls just beneath the surface. We feel the razor sharp cuts appear on Ray’s psyche with the micro-aggressions that are at times perpetrated upon us by those who love us most. Misgendering, violence, and the rage that comes from being a prisoner not only in one’s body, but also within society, are evident in fits and starts.

Ultimately, while this film will not satisfy the political activists who daily fight the wars of gender, it is an excellent and subtle shadow play that gives greater enjoyment as the delayed reaction hits. See this film at least twice. I guarantee there are bits you’ll miss on the first go-round.

This is definitely an interesting movie to share with the family, and a gentle way to provide some eye-opening conversation starters to a larger matrix of gender, beyond the binary. look for 3 Generations online at lionsgateshop.com.