A Journey without a map in one of the most overlooked films of the 2000s. The movie will be screened on 35mm film from the collection of Gosfilmofond.
Initially misunderstood, with time, Gus Van Sant’s film has eventually become a cinema classic. Two men, both named Gerry (Matt Damon and Casey Affleck), go hiking in a desert, get lost, and try to survive without food or water. Gus Van Sant’s frequent collaborator Harris Savides won a Best Cinematographer Award from the New York Film Critics Circle for his work in Gerry, while Cahiers du Cinéma included the film on two of their best films of the year lists (10th in 2002 and 6th in 2004).
The first film in Gus Van Sant’s “Death Tetralogy,” which also includes Elephant (2003), Last Days (2005), and Paranoid Park (2007), was inspired by the work of Hungarian director Béla Tarr, the video game Tomb Raider, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and the abstract art of Georgia O'Keeffe. The paradoxical film, very European in its sensibility although shot in a Californian desert, erased the boundaries between commercial and non-commercial, star actors and the absence of memorable acting, spirituality and atheism (Spiegel im Spiegel by Estonian Composer Arvo Pärt added an overtone of a religious fable).
Bringing together a few of his favorite subjects (ambiguous relationships between men, American landscape, death), Gus Van Sant created a film that was both very much his own and radically different from his earlier works, experimental as they were. One of the best American cinematographers of his generation, Harris Savides worked with directors who were particularly attentive to form—Jonathan Glazer (Birth), David Fincher (Zodiac), Sofia Coppola (Somewhere)—and made Gerry, filmed in 35 mm and containing precisely 100 shots, visually unforgettable. Building on the traditions of landscape and minimalist painting, land art and experimental film (the desert panoramas featuring Casey Affleck bring to mind Michael Snow’s La Région Centrale), it is often compared to video art. However, despite its blurry narrative structure, Gerry has a very clear composition: it is a journey that one has to travel from start to finish.
The two Gerry’s in the film also use “gerry” as a verb (“and then we gerried off to the animal tracks”), adding an element of play and unsettling mystery as well as a trace of incommunicability to their relationship. The incommunicability is also reflected in their positioning in space (one is above the cliff and the other below, or one is constantly ahead of the other crossing the desert). Their ambiguous relationship with a homoerotic undertone remains unclarified until the end, while their actions and dialogue, that Gus Van Sant co-wrote with Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, have no definite interpretation. This evasiveness is at the heart of the film’s magnetic appeal, inspiring its constant revision.
The film will be screened in English with Russian subtitles.
Director: Gus Van Sant
USA, 2002. 103 min. 16+