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Gerry

Year: 2002
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Cast: Casey Affleck, Matt Damon
Spoiler
Spoiler!
There couldn't be many films of recent times that polarised the (few) people who saw it - and owing to the fact that it was released on DVD only in Australia and seemed to sink without much of a ripple, the negative views seem to have won.

I can see both views. The whole thing could have been told in less than five minutes, as I've heard it said. But I also think the feature length gives more weight to the increasing desperation as the two guys get more and more lost (though more for us than for them - never once do they freak out, panic or lose control until - as it seems - they simply lie down and die in the desert).

In what must have been huge fun to direct and act in (and which makes you think a bit about the actor's motivation for the projects he or she picks), two guys called Gerry (Affleck and Damon) arrive at a hiking trail in a desolate part of the American panhandle. They set off through the scrub before deciding not to bother and go back to their car.

On the way, they realise they've gone the wrong way, and over the course of several days, they get more and more lost. In a metaphor for their situation, the landscape becomes more and more featureless until they're trudging across an absolutely flat salt pan with nothing in any direction.

Van Sant spends up to five or ten minutes with the camera fixed in a single direction filming one single thing (often nothing), like the pair simply walking, or their long discourse on how one will get down off the rock he's scrambled up.

What the film's trying to say isn't clear - it seems to be more about the craft and techniques employed, and while I can appreciate that people couldn't sit through it or didn't get the point, I can see the merits in both the directing and acting. The touches are both sweeping and tiny; one aspect you hardly notice is by the duo subtly dropping the word 'Gerry' into sentences as if it's an adjective.

But if you approach it as simple entertainment, you'll probably hate it.

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