“Why don’t you make me a dirt mattress?”
A deadpan descent into emotional abstraction, Gus Van Sant’s Gerry is about two dudes getting lost in a world in which they were probably already floating.
Though heavily inspired by the films of Bela Tarr, the closest cinematic cousin to this I can think of is Monte Hellman’s 1966 Western The Shooting, another film set in an en un-ending desert with dialogue that goes in absurdist circles. But where The Shooting is interested in the relationship between journeys and destinations, Gerry seems more concerned about what happens when you have neither. Though ostensibly beginning with a goal, Matt Damon and Casey Affleck’s titular protagonists are always doomed to wander a wasteland of psychological abstraction. Driving their beat up city slicker Mercedes out into the wild, they talk of finding “the thing” at the end of “the wilderness trail”. Five minutes in, and already someone has said “fuck the thing” and they’ve lost whatever vague guiding principles they had to start. Gerry ultimately becomes (if it can truly be said to be about anything) about the acceptance of fate, of time and circumstance long since towering above you. You have always been Gerry, ever since you Gerry’d the Gerry, Gerry.
Despite how heavy all of that sounds, and is, Gerry is fucking hilarious, a true successor to Becket’s knack for pulling a joke out of nothing but circles.