Gerry: I thought maybe you'd succumbed.
Gerry: I almost did succumb, but then I turbaned up, and I feel a lot better.
Gerry is a breathtaking film, demanding in its simplicity and its persistence. I know I am nearly four years late in saying this, but I think this movie is a big step forward in the art of filmmaking and will be, hopefully, one day remembered as taking the first confident and reckless steps toward a new aesthetic. I don’t believe it was shot on digital equipment, but within this film is the promise of the future digital age. Forget Sin City, this movie reaps the benefits of a digital culture. It narrows in on the details of reality without screaming about them, shows the boring, repetitive, and monotonous nature of living without commenting on it. The movie features a plainly presented, yet completely subjective narrative, long, strenuous shots that go on for ages, and an offhanded, naturalistic acting style that puts the “reality” of so-called reality TV stars to shame. It’s the kind of movie you can imagine being shown to you after traveling to the future (or the past) and, upon watching it, feeling as if you don’t have the proper frame of reference to watch correctly.
The plot of the movie can be described as simply as “Two guys get lost in the wilderness and try to find their way home.” There’s not a whole lot else that happens in the film. Matt Damon and Casey Affleck (both named Gerry) go out to the woods, make a wrong turn, get lost, make several other wrong turns, can’t find water, and wander about. The movie is, really, that simple.
But, sweet baby Jesus, how the movie goes about showing this! First of all, the relationship between the two guys is depicted in a fashion that is evocative of every single relationship with another male of my generation that I’ve been in. They connect to each other in a vaguely aggressive joking style that only grows more outwardly aggressive as their situation becomes more dire. Kudos, also, to the movie for getting correct the absurdity of hearing people talk about video games. Casey Affleck has a speech toward the beginning of the film where he relates how he conquered Thebes but couldn’t defend his home base because he needed twelve horses, but only had eleven. This puts it into my good books automatically. Then, there’s a gut-bustingly hilarious bit where Affleck is stuck high up on a rock and is scared to jump down. Damon tries to fashion a “dirt mattress” by hauling dirt in a “shirt basket”. The two are constantly inventing new uses of language to describe their situation, another pleasing and accurate touch to their characters.