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Film / Gerry

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Gerry (pronounced "Jerry", not "Gary") is a 2002 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant and co-written by him, Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, the latter two being the stars of the film and heavily involved in its production.

The film tells the story of two men who both go by Gerry that go hiking in New Mexico to see "the thing" at the end of a trail. Eventually, upon failing to find this "thing", they decide to head back but in the process realize that they have become lost. Over the course of the next few days, their attempts to return to civilization without any supplies or provisions put their friendship to the test.

Gerry is likely as minimalist as a quasi-conventional character drama could possibly get, having limited dialogue, a barebones plot, a very patient pace, and a maximum of two people onscreen for almost the entire duration. This style, frequently cited as an example of non-narrative cinema, was inspired by sources including the works of Béla Tarr, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, and Tomb Raidernote .

The film's plot was loosely based on a real-life incident involving best friends David Coughlin and Raffi Kodikian, but explaining the incident's relevance here would spoil a major aspect of the film. In fact, Van Sant learned of the incident from Damon, who only told him the most general details of what happened, after which he consciously chose not to research it further to avoid making an adaptation of the two men's story.

The film is the first in Van Sant's Death Trilogy, followed by Elephant (2003) and Last Days.

Not to be confused with the 2011 film of the same name.

Tropes that apply to the film include:

  • Beautiful Void
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gerry (Affleck) is strangled by Gerry, who finds the road and gets picked up by a car and survives.
  • Character Title: "Gerry" is also a slang term that the actors used (who helped write it) as a term for "screwing up".
  • Fatal Forced March: The crux of the film is spent on one of these that ends with the death of one of the participants.
  • Gallows Humor: As Gerry and Gerry lay down in the middle of nowhere, about to die.
    Gerry (Affleck): How do you think the hike is going so far?
    Gerry (Damon): Pretty good.
  • Leave the Camera Running: A good deal of the movie is this trope taken up to eleven.
  • Mercy Kill: At the end, Gerry (Damon) kills the other Gerry so he doesn't have to die of dehydration.
  • Minimalism
  • Minimalist Cast: Affleck, Damon and extras.
  • The Oner: Multiple. The most infamous one is the seven minute shot of Gerry and Gerry slowly walking away from the camera as the sun rises.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Gerry and Gerry. This doesn't get confusing in the film as there's only the two of them in the entire film.
  • Scenery Porn: Lots and lots of gorgeous mountains. And that's all the movie's got going for it.
  • Silence Is Golden: There is some dialogue, a lot of it with swearing, but there is almost no soundtrack.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Although the original theatrical trailer knew what kind of movie this was, when Miramax got the home media rights, their trailer made it look like a grisly thriller. It's even listed as such on their 10-movie DVD pack. Anyone expecting edge of your seat excitement will... well, you know.
  • The Unreveal: It's never stated what "the thing" at the end of the trail is.