I rented "Elephant" and "Gerry" in the same night. "Elephant" was a let-down, great concept and experiment, but all in all a failure as far as I was concerned. The first half of the film was brilliant, and probably the most authentic cinematic view of high school life since, well, Wiseman's "High School". But the second half turned into what I can only describe as a school shooting on demerol--the actors portraying the shooters did not have the capabilities to pull off the dimensionality of character Van Sant was going for, and the ending flopped as a result.
So next, I popped in "Gerry". Considering the reviews and media attention had been favoring "Elephant", I figured I wasn't in for much. Instead, I was treated to one of the most daring and original films I've ever watched.
The film is slow, but intentionally so. It portrays to the psyche of the viewer what a film like "Cast-Away" never could--the sheer monotony, hopelessness, solitude and fear of being lost or stranded. The vistas are beautiful in widescreen and become a character themselves, playing the antagonist off of the two protagonists, Affleck & Damon.
I won't go into the big question in this film, because it's a spoiler. But just keep in mind that certain characters in this film may not be characters at all, at least in the physical sense. It's this metaphysical and existential play that makes this film so interesting; the only work in cinema I can think to compare it to is Antonioni's "L'Avventura", which it pays homage to, but actually exceeds in its purpose, in my opinion.
If you can appreciate cinema that challenges you, check out this film. If that's not your thing, you probably won't like it.