Archive for the ‘Independent Film’ Category

Gerry

Monday, July 21st, 2008

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    To describe the plot of Gerry is an exercise in futility, two dudes get lost and wander around for two hours. That’s it. Oh, I forgot the opening, which is a tracking shot of a car that goes on for a couple of minutes, followed by a tracking shot of the passengers of the car, driving. This also goes on for a couple of minutes. By all accounts, I should have found this film frustrating, boring or pointless. But, I found it hypnotic.

Granted, this is not the kind of movie everybody likes. Actually, this isn’t the kind of movie many people like. Even its defenders (like Roger Ebert), tend to admire it more than really “like it” (as Ebert himself says in his review of the film). Director Gus Van Sant is a director who, like him or hate him, must be respected for always making the kind of movie he wants to make, no matter what the subject or what the public opinion will be (his much-reviled remake of Psycho is a good example of that). Gerry is the second film in Van Sant’s “Death” trilogy, which also includes Elephant and Last Days. Elephant was a film I didn’t really care for, and Last Days I bought for two dollars at a garage sale but I have yet to watch it (my lukewarm reaction to Elephant being the main reason.)

After reading several brutal reviews of Gerry, I was hesitant to finally sit down and watch the film (it had been languishing on my DVR for about nine months), but I finally decided to watch it, thinking even if I hated it, at least I could say I finally watched Gerry. Imagine my surprise when I realized this is a good movie. It hooked me in, even as I wondered how it had.

The film stars Casey Affleck and Matt Damon (both Van Sant regulars) as two young men, both named Gerry, who venture to a state park to hike to a “thing.” What the “thing” is is never revealed, their reference to the natural landmark as a “thing” helps establish them as brain-dead slackers. Indeed, their only really in-depth conversations deal with things like “Wheel of Fortune” or video games. My favorite scene has to be when Affleck, in superb detail, explains to Damon how he conquered Thebes in a video game.

They decide to wander off the trail to see the “thing,” get bored with their walk and go back towards the car. They never find it. Gerry is the journey of two bland know-nothings (think Rosencratz and Guildenstern as computer obsessed slackers) to their inevitable doom. One of the greatest assets of the film is the spectacular cinematography by Harris Savides, even those who hated this movie cannot deny that is is incredible to look at.

Van Sant and his crew shot the film in a variety of locations (Argentina, California, Utah and Jordan), to make the wilderness seem not only endless but also to allow it to contain every geographic and climate change possible. Visually, we get the impression that the two Gerrys have entered another dimension.

Van Sant has created a comedy of sorts, about two young men who flourish and function in a world of technology but, when faced with the great outdoors, flounder and wander. Gerry is a challenging film to watch, but it will hook you in if you let it.