Jordan White and Amy Blue, two troubled teens, pick up an adolescent drifter, Xavier Red. Together, the threesome embark on a sex and violence-filled journey through an America of psychos and quickie marts.
"Few films on have elicited anywhere near the disparity of comments that "The Doom Generation" has received, along with an extreme bi-model vote distribution on the IMDb. While I hate to prattle on about hidden meanings and messages that do not exist or that are not intended, Araki (unlike most film makers) is sophisticated enough to actually put such elements in his films. And he does not strike me as so full of himself that he would do this with no purpose other than mind games. Therefore, I will elaborate on my own interpretation of what he is trying to convey with this film.
McGowen's character, Amy Blue seems to be symbolic of the concept of pure beauty, which could be considered our closest relation to a world that exists outside ordinary life. An idea that psychologists like Jung (influenced by Eastern religion) have imagined as involving a sort of "collective unconscious" that persists through time while actual generations of human beings are born and die. Making beauty our proof while we live that there is "something higher" than ordinary existence. Like when a composer creates a melody and attributes it to a higher authority because they can't believe themselves capable of bringing something that perfect into the world.
Some do not recognize beauty when they see it and some are inspired when they see beauty, but most must possess beauty-or failing to gain possession destroy it rather than share it with others. Protecting beauty from those who would possess it or destroy it is the focus of this film. Although Amy is able to disguise herself from most people (and from most viewers) behind a façade of bad language and grim 'attitude', she is occasionally recognized by those who would possess or destroy-illustrated by the characters that go into violent rapture when they see her.
(SPOILERS AHEAD) My guess is that Jordan White is a too pure angel sent to protect Amy, and that Xavier Red is an evolving Jordan as his purity is replaced with protective survival skills. This is why the police agency can only find Amy's fingerprints on file. Like Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother Donald in 'Adaptation', death of one part of the dual identity is necessary for an integration of the two personalities. Akai likes to leave his involved audience members with the feeling that they were dreaming while riding a roller coaster.
There are a lot of God-Devil images in this film, with '666' presaging another attempt to destroy beauty or the evidence of 'something higher'.
Araki films are often about things not being what they appear to be; and they require the viewer to sort out complexity and revelation in what appear to be one-dimensional characters undergoing no real change. For example the sex scenes in this film, which initially seem crude and graphic, actually have a strange sort of innocence if you get past your own preconceptions.
This film is ambitious and amazing but not for everyone.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Strong on visual, weak script
Matthew Horner | USA | 04/21/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Doom Generation" is an intense, violent and erotic [hetero and homo] movie about teenage angst and alienation. It doesn't work on many levels because the focus seems to be more on style than on substance. Writer/director Greg Araki, who created a sensation a few years back with his ultra-low budget film, "The Living End", is both talented and original. The problem is that, since "The Living End", he has yet to find a project that suits his talents. His themes are dark and nihilistic. These are well worth exploring artistically, but he needs to find scripts that come close to matching the power of his visuals.Jordon [James Duval] and Amy [Rose McGowan] are a couple of spaced-out druggies in love. She's an extremely angry young woman who finds comfort in his sweet and passive nature. I'm not sure what he sees in her, for she is almost invariably unpleasant and often mean-spirited. Maybe he's so lost that any port in the storm will do. One night they meet the mad, charismatic and sexy Xavier [Jonathan Schaech], who leads them on a bizarre journey of sex, murder and mayhem. This trip is part horror, part dark comedy. This movie has a following and a cult status. I can understand this, but, frankly, there are other movies about youth alienation I would recommend before I would this one. These include "Kalifornia", "Fight Club", and a delightful dark comedy from thirty years ago called "Harold and Maude". [NOTE: The thing that cost "The Doom Generation" the most points in my opinion was the ending. It's quite cruel and, if it has a message, I didn't get it. The fault my lie in me or it may be in the way it was edited.]"
More enjoyment licking urinals
Mike Smith | 01/28/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"First off, web reviews are innately biased, as the only people who vote are those who care enough to bother. They either love it, or hate it. It's the same for any product reviewed here. Going on to the movie, it's not intelligent. It's not witty, insightful, or over the top to prove it's greater point. It's over the top to be naughty, so much that the director and his defenders can claim that those who don't get the movie are either idiots, close minded, or sheep. I've seen this movie three times, and every time it got worse. I've now hated this movie on a visceral level, on an intellectual level, and on a pure level of how it was constructed. Basically, this is brainless pap, that oozes it's awfulness from every level I can think of. It's a movie so in love with it's edginess, that it becomes self mockery. And for those who say that's the point of the movie, I've tried to give Greg Arraki a chance. From what I've seen, he's not even intelligent enough to work one level of meaning into a movie, much less making a movie that's entirely satire."
Juvinility for the Modern Intelectual
BRAD RICHTER | Forestville, CA | 12/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For all of the people who mock Gregg Araki's dialogue, his poor, home-video-esque directing and his sloppy editing, I have one thing to say: you're all correct. His dialogue is not realistic, it makes you cringe in embarassment at the poor actors who are forced to say these lines, and some would even say it was ineffective. However, we must realize that most every writer does EVERYTHING for a reason, and his motives are pure. The film is a mockery. It's not a mockery of youth, though. It mocks the way that society sees young people. So, effectively, Araki is spitting sarcastically in the faces of those who dislike his film . . . those who have contempt for the Doom Generation are the guinnea pigs for which the film was created. Although it may be (advertently) obvious, there is sarcasm and, believe it or not, a deeper meaning. See also NOWHERE, and reassess your thoughts on this modern noir masterpiece."
The Doom Generation breaks every boundary
Mike Smith | 01/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Greg Araki's second installment in his teen-angst slacker/nihilism trilogy, The Doom Generation, goes where many movies fear to tread. The movie consists mostly of sex, cussing and violence but after seeing it all the way through, it no longer seems gratuitous. The movie is filled with little statements here and there that actually hold philosophical potential but the characters never really get a chance to just stop for a moment and consider the possibilities. Rose MacGowan plays a bratty meth user who ends up in the middle of a love triangle, literally. James Duvall plays her burnt out boyfriend whose density doesn't suggest a lack of depth. He keeps on being victimized throughout the film, right until the very end. One of the best things about the movie are all of the suggestive signs in the background that only give possible excuses for the odd reality the Rose and James share. The movie strictly follows several themes which many people may overlook due to the shock value of many other components. This movie definitely has an acquired taste to it and is clearly meant for mature audiences."