review by Carrie Gorringe, 20 September 2002

27th Toronto International Film Festival

Two party dudes (Matt Damon and Casey Affleck) drive their beater Mercedes to the desert in pursuit of a good time at a friend's lodge.  Naturally, they disdain the well-worth (and well-proven) route that is "crawling with tourists," and stumble off into hell on earth for the next eighty-five minutes, and the audience suffers right along with them in the worst way possible.  

The problem doesn't lie with Gus van Sant's direction:  first of all, his gifts for dealing with outsiders and asinine ne'er-do-wells have already been well-established (as in My Own Private Idaho).  Here, however, he and co-writers Damon and Affleck commit the literary equivalent of painting themselves into a corner.  First of all, the audience never comes to understand much about the characters' psychologies; it's hard to establish much empathy with or sympathy for a couple of individuals whose entire conversational patterns tend to consist of little more than (very) occasional outbursts of "Yeahs" and "Nopes". Moreover, the setting doesn't provide them with very much to do, except wander around aimlessly complaining about the heat. Right after they head off into the desert, it's clear that nothing new has been brought to the table in terms of the eons-old "man versus nature" theme.  The only thing you can really muster up, in the end, is contempt for their stupidity;  as they head merrily off the trail without even a water bottle between them, any sense of legitimacy that this film might have possessed just evaporates on the spot.  You just know the entire sorry, pseudo-existentialist enterprise is going to end badly, and it's giving nothing away to say that it does.  Gerry just simply underscores the truth about what your mother always told you: wear clean underwear in the event of an accident, and, for Heaven's sake, just stay on the right paths. 

Toronto International Film Festival Coverage:



Directed by:
Gus Van Sant

Casey Affleck
Matt Damon

Written by:
Casey Affleck
Matt Damon
Gus Van San

R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult






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