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Gerry (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

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… and pace.

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 Affleck’s 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’.

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