review by Carrie Gorringe, 20 September 2002
27th Toronto International Film
party dudes (Matt Damon and Casey Affleck) drive their beater
Mercedes to the desert in pursuit of a good time at a friend's
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
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
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:
Gus Van Sant
Gus Van San
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult