Friday, April 29, 2016

Elephant (2003)

Cannes Film Festival 2003

Best Director
Gus Van Sant
Cinema Prize of the French National Education System
Gus Van Sant
Palme d'Or
Gus Van Sant

Fine Line Features
Directed by Gus Van Sant
My rating: 3.5 stars out of 4

As teenagers go about their daily routines in a typical American high school, two of them quietly plan a massacre. The camera floats behind a budding photographer, a shy girl who works in the library, a jock and his girlfriend and others. Some are destined to be killed, others survive, in the inexplicable outburst of violence that ends the film. We get only hints of their motivation: they play first person shooter video games, watch old documentaries of Hitler, get bullied in class, but the viewer is mostly left to their own conclusions. Van Sant repeats scenes from different points of view and incorporates subtle background music and natural sounds to build a sense of dread, which are extremely effective.

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