|similar shots used in Van Sant's 'Gerry' (2002), 'Elephant' (2003) & 'Last Days' (2005)|
I imagine some of you are asking what the “thing” is I mentioned at the beginning of this write-up that brings Damon & Affleck to the desert in the first place. In the first twenty minutes of Gerry, Affleck & Damon keep mentioning the “thing” (a clear example of the improvisation in the film). They never get specific but I imagine its some kind of national landmark, hot spring, totem or some kind of outdoorsy attraction for hikers.
If you're gonna do improvisational films (or a film with no script) sometimes the best thing to do is cast real life friends with genuine chemistry like Damon & Affleck (or at least actors who’ve worked with each other on a regular basis). All the dialogue spoken between Affleck & Damon in Gerry, which at times IS a bit too mumbly, familiar and inside jokey, still seems real & genuine. There's even a quick moment when Affleck is clearly holding in laughter yet Van Sant (Affleck's close friend and next door neighboor) keeps the scene in. But still, this isn’t a film about two friends dicking around in the desert. There's genuine moments all throughout Gerry where our two lost main characters express fear, despair, dementia and even hallucinations towards the end. The first third of Gerry is a little confusing because although Damon & Affleck are very lost without any water or food, it doesn’t seem to faze them whatsoever. But after a couple of days go by, reality sets in and they take things seriously until the final moments of the film when one of them dies. Although this is based a true story, a common analysis among fans of Gerry are that Damon & Affleck are the same person (ala Ed Norton & Brad Pitt in Fight Club). *SPOILER ALERT* In Gerry, Damon is pretty much the stronger one while Affleck is essentially the weaker one (there’s even a scene when Affleck starts to cry out of frustration and Damon gets upset and tells him to stop). In the end Damon survives while Affleck dies. It’s many people’s belief that when Damon strangles Affleck in the end, he’s killing his weaker side in order to survive. This scene rings familiar to the final moments in Van Sant's Last Days after Blake/Cobain commits suicide and his ghostly self rises up and leaves his dead human body behind.
To some, Gerry is a sleep aid. There's really no fancy way around denying it. It’s boring. A misunderstood & boring masterpiece but…key word: boring. Far from the Bourne Identity or Gone Baby Gone. Let’s just say this isn’t a date movie. ...Or is it? To somewhat socially inept clueless movie nerds like myself this IS a date movie. This film holds a lot of personal sentiment to the emperor of PINNLAND EMPIRE. I took my now-girlfriend to see this at the Museum Of The Moving Image almost exactly a year ago today and she still kept me around for a year (love you, baby). To people with a better understanding of film, have a long attention span, don’t easily fall asleep or love The Brown Bunny (there’s many similarities between the two films), Gerry is an underrated masterpiece that needs a second chance. I'd raise my eyebrow if someone said this was one of the 50 best films of the decade or something like that, but it is on the short list. Although this film is kind of under the radar it’s pretty easy to come by. Maybe give it a chance after a few cups of coffee.