Long takes moving through endless hallways with an at-times-aggressively-shallow depth of field make for a beautiful but overwhelmingly anxious film. And it leads us... nowhere. The violence is flat, the perpetrators displaying the kind of detached interest one might have in a video game. The banalization of the school shooting in Elephant preceded reality—fifteen years later, such events have no power to surprise.
Obligatory watch before one takes a stand about weapon restrictions in the U.S. and sadly school shootings is not a single event either making this film even more important than ever. As a film it could have been even deeper and more shocking but what it gets across is that noone is safe anymore.
Great approach to such a sensible topic. it would be easy to make a scandalous over-the-top film about the incident but Van Sant knew how to catch us with small and delicate moves, to put calmness into the caos, music in between the noise. the non-narrative scenes are really a delight to watch and follow. // I got down on my knees with the visual reference to GERRY (the previous one in his "Death Trilogy").
I think the best thing about this movie is, it doesn’t emphatize with shooters unlike the other school shooting movies. Gus van Sant did a great job with the camera. I mostly liked the post-modernist side of the movie: it does not have a main character, all characters have equal amount of time in screen and most of the scenes are specificly about those characters. I couldn’t understand the calmness of victims.
I was surprised by how depthless this is. There isn't one character that is developed; someone to care about. No attemp at an exploration. Some formal elements are quite good: what Van Sant does with time and characters' perspectives, for instance. But this is such an empty, antiseptic film; there's little substance, emotion, empathy or even much of a conflict - at least, on the level that such a subject warranted.
I understand that people are affected by this film because of the (sadly) many similar events before and after this, but I honestly don't get its appeal. The walking shots get tiresome after a while and if you really pay attention, those scenes are a high porcentage of the overall film. I know the director wanted a simplistic film but the bland characters and the lackluster acting seriously don't help it either.