THE MOST screamingly obvious reaction to "Gerry" is: what a load of pseudo-arty you-know-what.
I mean, two guys (Matt Damon and Casey Affleck) lost in a Death Valley of a desert, walking in increasingly confused circles and speaking in a sort of Beckett-meets-Beavis and Butt-head language. Without the chuckles. For 103 minutes.
Both of them call each other Gerry. (More on this later.) There are shots and shots and takes and takes of the sunbaked terrain. There's time-lapse photography, too. You know, rolling clouds over mountains, rapidly disappearing sun, that sort of thing.
Add to this the knowledge that the director is Gus Van Sant, who made "Mala Noche," "Drugstore Cowboy" and "My Own Private Idaho" before he went Hollywood with "Good Will Hunting" and "Finding Forrester."
He's back in the art game, or so it would seem. He has stated the movie, which credits Van Sant, Damon and Affleck as the writers, pays homage to such long-take artistes as Bela Tarr, Derek Jarman and Chantal Ackerman.
But let's start from the beginning. The aforementioned Gerrys (according to Damon and Affleck in the press notes, this is a catchall name to denote an unprintable phrase meaning someone who's totally useless) drive to a spot at the edge of the desert. They stop. They get out. They start walking. They are heading toward something they refer to only as "the thing." Almost immediately, they have lost their way. They are definitely Gerry material. And no way are they going to find the thing. Forget the thing. It's history.
The rest of the movie -- not most, I mean, the rest -- is about them walking around and not finding anything. Oops, I think I just ruined the plot.
This meandering has some highlights. At one point, Gerry One (Damon) puts a light blue T-shirt around his head and starts to look like someone in a burnoose. Later, Gerry Two (Affleck) finds himself standing on a ridiculously sheer rock, which requires a considerable jump to get off. It takes a while to get him down.
In between these mind-blowing events, there is much trudging and crunching of sand and rock. And there are comments like this: "Do you think we should just go over to that mountain?"
One thing they never say (and I was so disappointed) is: "Dude, where's my car?"
Obviously, "Gerry" is supposed to be contemplative. Or more accurately, it's supposed to induce your contemplation. The scenery is spectacular. And after a while, you may start to feel like Gerry One and Two: a little fuzzy in the brain. Which could inspire you to make up your own ideas about what's happening. You could expend considerable energy trying to figure out what "the thing" is. Or you could wrap something around your head and say nothing for a long time. That would signify to everyone around you that you really get it.
GERRY (R, 103 minutes) -- Contains occasional obscenity. At Visions Cinema/Bistro/Lounge.