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15 Gerry (2003)

updated 22nd July 2003
reviewer's rating
Four Stars
Reviewed by Nev Pierce
User Rating 4 out of 5

Gus Van Sant
Casey Affleck
Matt Damon
Gus Van Sant
Casey Affleck
Matt Damon
103 minutes
22nd August 2003
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Mesmerising, daring and defiantly leftfield, "Gerry" is a trip.

Two blokes named Gerry (Matt Damon and Casey Affleck) stride into the desert, seeking a sight we never discover. Eventually they give up and decide to head home. But they're lost. In the wilderness.

A metaphor for humanity's spiritual desolation, or nature's indifference to Man; meditation on the fragility of life; paean to the power of friendship; pretentious art piece of astonishing tedium - there is credence to all of these descriptions. You will likely love "Gerry", or hate it.

Shot mostly in long, prosaic takes, often of nothing more than the protagonists trudging through interminable sun-scorched landscapes, it's not for the attention-deficient. Certainly, those expecting a feelgood reunion between Damon and his "Good Will Hunting" director Gus Van Sant had best steer clear.

The patient, however, should enjoy a beguiling, restful, almost trance-inducing picture.

Shot predominantly in Death Valley, California - the setting for countless westerns - "Gerry" is astonishingly beautiful. Like the sea, the desert is both magnificent and fearful, an unforgiving force of nature captured here in all its awe.

Against this backdrop, armed only with spartan, improvised dialogue, the leads excel in retaining attention. Damon trades on his inherent likeability, his movie star charisma, to make us care, while Affleck reveals a depth of talent previously only hinted at, as his character slowly disintegrates.

Perhaps aided by the actors' real-life friendship, Van Sant conjures a convincing air of intimate camaraderie, superseded by an almost tangible aura of fear as the pair's predicament worsens.

The closing credits state "Gerry" is "In memory of Ken Kesey", the beat hippie author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", whose drug-fuelled cross-country bus trip was recorded in Tom Wolfe's era-defining 60s book, "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test".

It's an adept tribute, in that it's wilfully unconventional, and evokes the presence of peace so many search for. A sense some find in drugs, others in prayer: a celluloid high; a touch of the transcendent.

"Gerry" is released in UK cinemas on Friday 22nd August 2003.

Find out more about "Gerry" at
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