Cover Art and Menu: 5/10
For such an intriguing, visually stimulating film, this cover and the menu really don’t promise much as much as the movie delivers. I don’t know what would be the best design to represent this story, but the image of the name brand actors pasted on the front is kind of a tease I suppose. This is not an action adventure with witty repartee between Damon and Affleck, but the cover might take your general DVD renter/buyer down the road at first glance.
This movie screams, GIVE ME EXTRAS, if for no other reason but to enlighten people like me who love the art of film making and who appreciate such beauty and grace being brought to the big screen by an innovative film maker like Van Sant. This ain’t your “Saturday night gather the gang around for a blockbuster” type of movie. It requires a certain kind of film appreciation. The kind of appreciation that goes beyond pat Hollywood formulas and happy endings. When a film takes that leap and becomes more of a work of art than a quick fix of empty entertainment, it requires some kind of explanation. The short behind the scenes mini-documentary is a nice taste of what the set was like, but it’s just not enough. I want commentary! I want interviews! I want more dammit!! This is one cool flick that leaves me hungry for some groovy director discussion. Alas, I will forever hunger for the details of how this film was made. Woe is me.
The Movie: 10/10:
The best way I can describe this film is to say it is a deconstruction of a circumstance. Two young men get lost in the dessert. It’s nothing deep or intellectual. It is an objective look at how these two people go from a light hearted afternoon trip to a park to being lost in the dessert for five days. There is no fan fare or dare devil attempts to be rescued. There are no cut scenes to their loved ones who are missing them. It’s simple enough, sand, sun, lost.
How does it feel to walk endlessly across burning sand to an uncertain destination? How does it feel to sleep under the stars with nothing more than a rock for a pillow and a fire to keep you company? The idea that two people might be overwhelmed with fear and desperation is not mixed in with the calm cool exterior both of these men maintain throughout their ordeal. They are somewhat unaffected, it seems, because they don’t really accept that they are in such a desperate situation. They aren’t brave or strong, or even clever about how they will find their way back to civilization. They simply walk, think, contemplate, and starve.
The performances are amazing. Affleck and Damon construct characters who are neither vulnerable nor heroic. They improvise their way through very few lines of dialogue and many scenes of quiet contemplation. So much is said by a look, a gesture, even a guttural sound slipping from a thirsty, hungry stomach. They take the situation to a place that makes perfect unsettling sense.
This film is a combination of film school idealism and Hollywood pro tricks of the trade. With director Gus Van Sant and cinematographer Harris Savides at the reigns it’s a delicate balance between film as living art, and film as film. There are so many long shots of the gorgeous scenery in the dessert you feel distanced from their world, from their plight. And then, when you least expect it, you get a close up that lasts and lasts and lasts bringing you in for a new level of intimacy we rarely feel when watching movies. We feel the overwhelming sense of being lost in such a large forsaken place, but at the same time, we are taken up close enough to hear their breathing and listen to the rustle of their clothes as they walk, walk, walk, walk, and walk some more toward nothing. It all feels like it is meant to be a mirror of the isolation and utter hopelessness of what is happening. We don’t get to know them very well, and we don’t come to understand just how well they might know each other. We are observers at best.
There are a lot of theories about the story, the setting, the real life inspiration for the film, but what I have come to conclude is that this is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. I don’t need and explanation to enjoy it, or to understand it. But I still want to get inside Van Sant’s head and hear some commentary, only because I love artists, and I do believe that Van Sant is a one of a kind visionary.
Gerry is an amazing experience that I would like to think anyone could enjoy, but I’m a realist and with the long, often too long, shots of walking, driving, clouds moving, etc., I do think it requires more patience and an open minded attitude than most movie watchers have to offer these days.
For those of you who watch it and appreciate it as much as I do, welcome to our exclusive club!
Hey, for me this movie is a solid 10 all the way around. However, the DVD is seriously lacking all the good stuff that could go along with it, so I have to be honest and say the overall score does suffer from the price and the lack of extras. $20.00 is quite an investment for most people who are willing to give this movie a chance. I say it’s worth every penny, and that’s saying something coming from me, Ms. Cheapskate. I am very glad to have it in our collection and I hope to show it off to a few people, even if they prefer Bruce Willis blowing stuff up. It’s a good way to broaden their horizons.:) It’s still a bit steep for as little as you get, except for the amazing film you can add to your shelf. The one little extra documentary tagged on for good measure is not enough to make it worth the cash for some people.
I say rent this baby to find out if you like it and then go from there. It’s not a one-time-watch for me. I’m sure I’ll pull it out a few times to mull over the whole thing again and again.
Overall Score 7/10