A few words about Gerry (2002)

10 Jun

By Tanner Smith

Previously on Smith’s Verdict: “And as far as the argument of ‘Last Summer’ being ‘too slow’ for some people goes, well…I’ve seen Gus Van Sant’s ‘Gerry,’ so what else you got?”

“Gerry”…is NOT one of my favorite films, but it is a film that I hold in some special kind of regard because…just because.

It is what it is, and what it is…helps me sleep sometimes. (No joke–when I was going through my early stages of Multiple Sclerosis and suffering some insomnia as a result, this film helped me get some sleep!)

My fellow film buffs are probably giggling when I mention that, but those who have no idea what this movie is, let me tell you: “Gerry” is a film about two guys (played by Matt Damon and Casey Affleck) who get lost in a desert…and they wander around…and they talk a little bit…and they walk…and walk…and walk…and walk…and walk………and walk……….and………

That’s it. That’s literally the entire film! Oh, and one of them dies at the end. I would’ve issued a spoiler alert for that, but…nah.

And it’s just…so…fascinating. To think that a director as talented as Gus Van Sant (whose “Drugstore Cowboy,” “Good Will Hunting,” and “Finding Forrester” I really admire) would really go through with this…..

Remember when he remade “Psycho” shot-for-shot? He said he did it “so no one else would have to.” Maybe that’s why he made a film about two guys wandering around in a desert: so no one else would have to. That’s strangely kind of commendable in a sense.

To watch “Gerry” is to be hypnotized–even AFTER you’ve muttered to yourself in a daze, “Good God…they’re really going for it…it’s so boring…so long…when will it end?? I feel so tired…and alone…and confused…what is life…what is love…who am I…”

Is “Gerry” profound or just pretentious? Well…yes. It’s just…beautifully empty.

“Gerry” was part of a trilogy of films Van Sant called his “death trilogy.” He followed “Gerry” with a similarly slow-paced film called Elephant, which showed the mundane average goings-on of a typical high-school day before a shooting occurred. Then came “Last Days,” which was inspired by the death of Kurt Cobain and showed the slow deterioration of a similar rock star. All 3 of these films are slow and uneventful–but they definitely leave an impression.

(Btw, I like “Elephant”–it’s both compelling and terrifying. “Last Days,” I barely remember.)

Overall, “Gerry” just reminds me of something that could’ve been made in film school as an experimental art piece. And it was made by a high-profile director and starred high-profile actors who are hardly given much to do other than spew some BS every several minutes (if even), get in a tough spot where one of them has to jump from a tall boulder, and just…walk…a lot!

I just can’t get emotionally invested in these two guys because I’m not even sure whether or not THEY’RE emotionally invested! At least with Last Summer, I knew who those two guys were!

A film this abstract is something for the Sundance crowd, right? Well…yes and no. Apparently, there were many walkouts during its premiere screening in 2002. I can’t say I blame them, but at the same time…how often do we get movies like this?

This is like the pie scene in A Ghost Story stretched out to 100 minutes. I MEAN, FOR GOODNESS SAKE, THERE’S A LONG SILENT FREAKING SHOT OF THE TWO GUYS WALKING INTO THE SUNRISE AND IT GOES ON FOREVERRRRRRR

That’s it, I’m done talking about “Gerry.” I should’ve stopped at “this film helped me get some sleep!”

I don’t love it, I don’t hate it–it’s just admirable and yet frustrating at the same time.

It is…what it is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: