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RELEASED: 2002, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 103 mins
DIRECTOR: Gus Van Sant
PRODUCER: Dany Wolf
SCREENPLAY: Casey Affleck, Matt Damon & Gus Van Sant
MUSIC: Arvo Part
Casey Affleck as Gerry
Matt Damon as Gerry
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Two men, presumably both called Gerry, are driving along a road together. No conversation passes between them. However, they do get out of the car, and walk towards a notice informing that the pathway they are standing on is a Wilderness Trial Hike, so they decide to have a wander down it.
Stuck out in the middle of the desert - presumably somewhere like Arizona or Nevada - the two men accidentally veer off the path, whereby instead of returning to their parked car, they simply wander more deeply into the desert terrain.
The ground gets drier, the scrubland vegetation turns to rocks and sand, and despite climbing hillocks and outcrops in the hopes of being able to get their bearings and perhaps find their way out of the wilderness, the two young men remain helplessly and desperately lost.
With no food, no water and no means of alerting anybody for help due to being so far away from civilisation, the young men simply have to try their best to just keep on the move, in the hopes they will eventually find the original path they started from.
Immediately after the very short opening credits, I was gripped by this film. Although nothing much happens at the beginning other than watching the car containing Gerry and Gerry driving through the desert, the atmosphere is well set, all to a backdrop of interesting music which sometimes is a rather sad tune played on quiet piano, with the bulk of the score being avant-garde electronic noises.
It isn't clear as to why Gerry and Gerry are driving through the desert together, and it seems as if they chose to follow the Wilderness Path on a whim. Once out of the car, they do speak a little, but not in any great depth.
I'd not personally say that any great acting skill is required for either of the two characters (Gerry and Gerry) in this film, but both Casey Affleck and Matt Damon did present as quite convincing...not a difficult task though, largely due to the very sparse dialogue throughout the whole film.
Gerry certainly isn't a film where any potential viewer should expect scintillating conversation, high action, thought-provoking profundities or anything particularly moving. It is clear from the start that this is a film which solely concentrates on the situation and the atmosphere of the hostile terrain in which the young men find themselves battling for survival.
There are a couple of scenes in the film where I feel that some time was wasted, in that the focus for quite a few minutes on these two separate occasions, is solely upon the heads of the two men as they trudge side by side across the rocky, sandy ground. I do believe these scenes are a clumsy attempt at adding a touch of surrealism, together with the time-lapse photography used to display day, night and cloud formations, but such doesn't quite hit the spot.
The two men are in a despairing situation, yet I didn't sense anything frantic coming from either of them. This could be due to there being little or no character-building, in the sense that we never really get to know who these men are or what, apart from acquaintances, their relationship is to one another. However, that may not be of any great importance if you can watch the film and concentrate on the geographical aspects above all else, as the location in which Gerry was filmed contains some stunning scenery, even if it is bleak, hostile and unwelcoming.
I would like there to have been a little more meaningful conversation between Gerry and Gerry, as on a personal level, they do seem rather detached from one another....and, it also comes across that neither of them could have been very close to the front of the queue when intelligence was meted out!
If you are the sort of person who is happy and prepared to absorb yourself into a film which is slow-moving, consisting of two almost taciturn young men plodding through the desert, their thirst and hunger levels making each step more arduous, then this could be something you'd enjoy, particularly if you are able to focus on and enjoy the beautifully unusual scenery.
All in all, Gerry is a film which provides no laughs, with what little dialogue there is being rather shallow and insignificant, and a very dubious effort at trying to create something bordering on surrealism....but, it also is quite fascinating and I couldn't draw myself away from the screen. Whilst watching, I didn't even ponder as to what the ending could be, probably because I was too caught up in the plight of Gerry and Gerry.
In summary, Gerry is a brave effort at creating something miasmically atmospheric and it does hit the spot at certain points, yet misses it altogether on others. I'd say it's overall a good watch though, and I'm not sorry I gave up the larger part of one of my evenings to see it.
At the time of writing, Gerry can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £4.01 to £39.99
Used: only one copy currently available @ £4.14
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~