Possibly the most intentionally slow-moving film starring a top Hollywood actor ever made in America, Gerry marks Gus Van Sant's heralded return to offbeat, independent cinema, with Matt Damon and Casey Affleck his lone stars: two guys named Gerry who go for a hike in the desert, take a wrong turn, and find themselves hopelessly – truly hopelessly – lost.
Using single takes that stretch out nearly ten minutes in length, and leaving entire chunks of his film dialogue-free (that which is spoken is only banal: Affleck goes on about playing Civilization, Damon recounts an embarrassing Wheel of Fortune moment – there are no soul-searching monologues here, thank God), Van Sant's deliberate pacing will undoubtedly bore 90% of his audience, but the remaining 10% may be, like me, mesmerized by the experience.
The widescreen desert photography is awesome, and the can't-get-any-simpler setup – two guys lost in the desert – allows for the subtle interplay between Damon's increasingly macho Gerry and Affleck's increasingly emotional Gerry to carry great symbolic weight, as the story draws to an oblique and disturbing conclusion that I can't get out of my head. Along the way there are a couple of hilariously dry interchanges between these two losers, and a couple of visual surprises as well.
I don't think I ever need to see Gerry again, but that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile experience, especially on the big screen. Beautiful use of Arvo Pärt's minimalist piano compositions, too.