|Related Articles: Movies, All|
Where is it all going?
by Ryan Wiederkehr on Aug 27, 2004
Two young men wander, lost and dejected, through an unnamed land. They're lost and there's a good chance that they are going to die out there.
Here ends the plot segment of the review.
There are two actors in this film. Casey Affleck and Matt Damon. In real life, the two grew up together, and as with any tightly-knit group of friends (especially boys), they've developed a complex lexicon of inside-joke terminology. The title of the film, and likewise the working titles of the characters, comes from this lexicon. The word "Gerry" means "fuck up". They call each other Gerry. At one point when Damon fucks up a rendez-vous in the hills, Affleck tells him that he "totally Gerry'd the rendez-vous". Last night I saw a drunk guy on a bike Gerry the light on Polk Street and get run over by a car.
Gerry is, in one right, Gus Van Sant's Waiting for Godot, minus Lucky and Pozzo. In Godot, Vladimir and Estragon actively wait for the man named Godot. There's no point, there really was never any beginning to the waiting, and certainly there's no end. Life and death don't matter; it's the waiting. Consider this passage, near the very end of Beckett's play:
Estragon: Why don't we hang ourselves?
Vladimir: With what?
Estragon: You haven't got a bit of rope?
Estragon: Then we can't.
Vladimir: Let's go.
Estragon: Wait, there's my belt.
Vladimir: It's too short.
Estragon: You could hang onto my legs.
Vladimir: And who'd hang onto mine?
And around and around. So they wait, and they plan on waiting again tomorrow.
From the very beginning, we get the sense that the Gerrys, much like Vladimir and Estragon, don't have any destination. They drive through the desert to some unnamed place, get out of the car, and just start walking. They take no note of their location, in fact, it's questionable as to whether they even have a destination. When they tire of walking, they decide that "the thing" really isn't worth seeing at all, anyway. So they turn back. And wander. And wander. Through some of the most beautiful scenery the West has to offer.
Gerry will either mesmerize you or drive you absolutely bat-shit as you watch Matt Damon and Casey Affleck wander aimlessly through the wild. That is, and I'm not kidding here, the entire film. It's almost like watching someone paint a house. Stretches of time blend into the final product and are lost in the entirety of the whole thing.
I found myself thinking about this film days afterwards. And at first, I'll be honest, I left the theater not knowing how to feel, other than thirsty. Did Gus Van Sant Gerry this noble-seeming project? The more I thought about it, and think about it still, I believe that he did not. This is about as outside-the-box as contemporary American filmmaking can get, especially noting the talent involved in the project.
This is not a movie for the MTV attention-span. There are no SMASH CUTS. No slick editing. In fact, in a discussion I had with Mr. Van Sant, he mentioned that there were only something like 90 total editing cuts in the whole production. That's amazingly low in the year 2003.
Anyone interested in seeing something different should probably give this one a shot. But believe me, it's difficult for me to give Gerry a hands-down "GO SEE IT". The scenes are long and some of them brutally so. But interestingly enough, it's the first film I've seen in quite some time that gives you time to think a little during the time in which you're watching it. I found my mind wandering to everything from my own hiking and camping experiences to thinking along more complex lines, even getting as out-there as the "life: where do I fit into all of this" line of questioning. Not everyone will have this experience, I promise you that much.
1 hour 43 minutes
by Ryan Wiederkehr on Aug 27, 2004