Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
THE last time actor/writer, Matt Damon, teamed up with director,
Gus Van Sant, the result was the breathtaking Oscar-winner, Good
Will Hunting. Their latest collaboration, however, marks a complete
change of direction
Gerry marks something of a cinematic endurance test; a beautifully-shot
art-house movie that eventually becomes as lost as its two protagonists.
Damon and co-writer, Casey Affleck (younger brother of Ben),
star as two friends, both named Gerry, who pull off the highway
to hike on a wilderness trail, deviate from the path and find
themselves encountering some harsh terrain.
Over the course of three days, we watch as their predicament
becomes ever more desperate, as they slowly become dehydrated
and ever more lost, and the reality of their nightmare
begins to dawn upon them.
Shot on location in the Valle de la Luna National Park, in the
San Juan province of Argentina, as well as in Death Valley, California,
and Wendover, Nevada (on the Utah border), Gerry certainly looks
spectacular, but fails to connect on any sort of emotional level.
The premise plays well upon the horror stories we have heard
many times over, of hikers suddenly struggling to survive against
the elements (particularly within the wide open landscapes of
America), and even possesses a haunting what if quality
that is a thousand times more scary than the cheap thrills offered
by the likes of Wrong Turn,
yet Van Sant and Damon, between them, conspire to make the resulting
journey as tedious as possible.
Hence, there is very little talking throughout, and the movie
is rammed full of lingering shots of the two boys walking, or
of rock-scapes, cloud formations and sun-drenched vistas.
Audiences never get to find out what the duo are in search of,
who they are, or what motivates them; while their own sense of
fear and desperation feels somewhat muted by the fact that it
takes about two days for them to realise the depth of their crisis.
Even then, there is very little dialogue to suggest that they
might blame each other, or even fear the worst, which makes a
mockery of the promise contained within the publicity that the
ensuing saga will put the depth of their friendship to the ultimate
test. As friends, the Gerrys seem to operate as complete strangers.
The only time the duo really seem to connect is during a somewhat
humorous exchange after Afflecks character becomes stranded
atop a rock, but apart from that, the movie becomes a self-consciously
vague, and frequently surreal, existential affair.
As a result, audiences are likely to feel as lost amid the scenery
as the two characters themselves, and would be advised to seek
a caffeine shot before entering the cinema - and then be armed
with enough liquid to prevent their own dehydration.
For while this boasts some big names, it is ultimately an arduous
journey that becomes bogged down by its own arty-ness.