Gus Van Sant says this 2001 feature was inspired by Bela Tarr, James Benning, Andrei Tarkovsky, Jacques Tati, and Chantal Akerman, among others, but it’s far below the level of any of these filmmakers at their best. Within the commercial context suggested by the film’s only actorsCasey Affleck and Matt Damonit’s certainly a provocation, with a few funny moments, and it’s less phony and offensive than Finding Forrester. The two stars (who collaborated with Van Sant on the script), both playing characters named Gerry, wander across the desert for some reason, and if you enjoy watching them on any pretext, you’ll probably enjoy this; if you don’t, you won’t. Van Sant was an exciting filmmaker when he made his first three features (Mala Noche, Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho) and some of his early shorts. The feature following this one, Elephant, reestablished him as an artist worth watching. 103 min. (JR)

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