Published Jan 01, 2006As Seinfeld is to television, Gerry is to cinema - it's a film about nothing.
Two friends (both named Gerry) head to the desert for a hike, stray from the recommended path and soon find themselves lost. Over the course of 103 minutes, we watch as the two walk (a lot), have random conversations and occasionally extricate themselves from tricky situations.
At times, Gerry feels as though it's been crafted to serve as a cinematic endurance test - the sort of film that buddies will dare each other to sit through in its entirety. With its lingering shots of the vast desert landscape and minimal dialogue, director Gus Van Sant goes to great lengths to ensure that we feel just as lost as the two central characters. Equally obtuse are the Gerrys - as played by Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, these figures are never really developed beyond the superficial (we learn that Damon is the more dominant of the two because he admonishes Affleck for crying, but that's about the extent of it).
Still, the film remains oddly compelling, mostly due to director of photography Harris Savides' absolutely breathtaking cinematography. If nothing else, Gerry serves as a feature-length travelogue of the American West. The few instances where the two characters have to work out a problem, such as when Affleck finds himself trapped atop a large boulder, are a welcome respite from the almost interminable walking sequences (one such scene goes on for six or seven minutes and consists of the two hiking side-by-side without actually saying a single thing to each other).
But there's no denying that Van Sant has crafted a film that's utterly unique. Though it's been made with a tenth the budget of most Hollywood films, it's certainly more interesting (if only on a purely visual level) than the majority of clichéd mainstream product.