Van Sant's exotic experimental folly was deemed a 'love it or hate it' proposition after its unveiling at the 2002 Sundance festival, but the first suspicion was that it was another of this wandering director's conceptual whims, like his remake of Psycho. Given Elephant's subsequent success at Cannes 2003, dare we hope he's back on the trail of his early edge? Made avowedly under the (semi-digested) influence of Hungary's stringent real time minimalist Béla Tarr, and after one too many late night confabs with Damon and Affleck, the film is a pristinely spartan drama in which the two players ('Gerry' to one another) drive into the New Mexico desert, hike a way further, realise they're lost, and walk themselves into the dust through the following night and day. Their moods shift along with the ravishing desert scapes (the production relocated from Argentina to Utah, New Mexico and California halfway through the shoot), while, between the wilful longueurs, the actors improvise their few inconsequential bits of business with droll Beckett-like absurdity. Best to see it as bone-headed expression of Van Sant's own state of mind: a sententious howl of aesthetic anguish.
Cast and crew
|Director:||Gus Van Sant|
|Screenwriter:||Casey Affleck, Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon|