Elephant - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Elephant Reviews

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September 25, 2015
Gus Van Sant's Elephant, though a rapturous and terrifying memorial to the Columbine massacre, brings nothing to the discussion on high-school violence. No causes, no solutions, no moral or intellectual perspective, none of the facile politicking that immediately followed in the incident's wake. Those looking for answers, or even insights, are certain to be disappointed by Van Sant's audacious experiment, which offers a delicate and uninflected meditation on high-school life during a not-so-ordinary day. A natural companion piece to Gerry, his minimalist landscape film about two men lost in the desert, Elephant creates gorgeous, wide-open spaces that allow viewers the freedom to reflect without having a point-of-view imposed on them. In that sense, the film does the important service of stealing Columbine back from pundits and politicians on both ends of the ideological spectrum, all of whom seized upon the event so opportunistically. With ace cinematographer Harris Savides' elegant Steadicam prowling the halls, Van Sant quietly restores some humanity to the victims and perpetrators alike, if only to account for their existence. Using a mostly non-professional cast, he tracks all the students involved in this fateful day, which begins with mundane routine and ends in bloody mayhem. Because there's no time to get past first impressions and truly understand these characters, many appear as Breakfast Club-like stereotypes (The Jock, The Nerd, The Bulimic Princesses), reduced to their place on the high-school caste system. Van Sant spends more time with John Robinson, a wispy blond boy who looks out for his alcoholic father (Timothy Bottoms), and Elias McConnell, a yearbook photographer with an unerring eye for beauty. In the film's most problematic sequence, he also follows the two killers (Alex Frost and Eric Deulen) in the moments leading up to the massacre, using the opportunity to check off all the usual "causes"-violent video games, gun proliferation, Nazism, repressed sexuality-that are commonly attached to such rampages. But collectively, all the players are brought together under the same umbrella, their lives intersecting in a way that none of them could have anticipated. While it seems that Van Sant is merely leading his lambs to the slaughter, Elephant has a gentle, hypnotic tone that's insistently sweet and elegiac, in spite of the horrors that overwhelm the frame. In its juxtaposition of the serene and the violent, the beautiful and the brutal, the film achieves a balance that's exquisitely judged, tiptoeing artfully through a cultural minefield.
April 5, 2016
This movie sucks. It's only 80 minutes long, which is about an hour too long.
½ March 13, 2016
I saw this film in the Azores, Portugal of all places.

It came out after the Columbine tragedy and I think it is disgusting that this film tries to somehow capitalize and evoke empathy from a serious real-life tragedy.

There is little dialogue in this film. As such, it is very realistic and believable. Simply, the visual story of a couple of outcasts who organize a mass slaughter at their high school. They are spiritually devoid human beings and are presented as everyday kids. They are able to arm themselves enough to wipe out much of the student population.

The title means nothing. This film means nothing. I hope it is not viewed by children who learn from it to carry out a copycat catastrophe. Some losers may look at this film and find it intriguing to emulate. If this is ever acted upon, the filmmaker Gus Van Sant should be jailed for life. Shame on him for this production. This piece of trash should never have been released in wide distribution.
½ February 12, 2016
A very confronting & unsettling about film as we follow the lives of a few teens during a typical High School but two students have a very sinister plan at hand.

Unmistakably a closer look at the horrific Columbine High School shooting on April 20th 1999 four years before the film.

The film has such an authentic feel to it which makes the horror all the more real. A chilling film that is incredibly crafted...a true social comment.
½ December 31, 2015
What Roger Ebert said.
December 24, 2015
A gorgeous modern masterpiece of unshakeable power.
November 30, 2015
This movie is absolutely awesome i loved it.
October 26, 2015
A fantastic film who's only flaw is its inexperienced cast. A truly disturbing tale based on the Columbine massacre. But the lack of emotional depth in the characters is prevalent. Still, this film is super important. And super.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2011
With a flawless direction and elegant long takes, this hypnotizing film moves in a careful pace to follow its characters prior to an impending tragedy. I only wish I felt more involved with them, while the amateur actors could have conveyed a more authentic sense of terror.
August 24, 2015
Criticada por su sínica y "falta de profunidad" la película realmente brilla por una dirección tan lenta que termina por estresarme y es ahí donde capta toda mi atención al expresarla en miedo.
Super Reviewer
September 12, 2010
Gus Van Sant's powerfully unnerving film about two high school misfits, Alex and Eric well played by Alex Frost and Eric Deulen, who calmly plan a mass execution of their class mates and school administers like the massacre at Columbine. The real strength in this film lies in its power of observation, we get a brief glimpse into the young killers personalities, who are sexually confused, Hitler-loving dweebs, who get off on playing single-person shooting video games. But what makes it all the more chilling is that they don't seem any different from any of the other high schoolers. Brilliant cinematography by Harris Sadvides with those long steady-cam tracking shots really do a great job of putting you with the characters, as they walk the long endless corridors of their high school murdering innocent people. The supporting cast of mostly unknown actors all deliver fine naturalistic performances. I think the most disturbing scene in the film is when one of the killers turns to the other and tells him, "Most important, have fun man!" just before they begin their mass killing spree. Winner of the Golden Palm at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. A starling and unforgettable motion picture. Highly Recommended.
August 4, 2015
July 22, 2015
Gus Van Sant's raw teen drama can be justifiably defined as 'all too real' and is that kind of movie that can characterized as good, but too upsetting to want to watch twice.
½ August 3, 2015
Shocking even as you know what's about to unfold.
May 29, 2007
School shootings have become a trend, if you will. This movie stayed with me for a long time after watching it because it made me really sad and scared. Watching a film like this, especially hearing about school shootings in the news, really changes your outlook about high school. One must wonder what must go through the shooters' minds so that they could do something really horrible. But this movie took it to the next level: it merely observes instead of making judgment, which is all the more painful. I wish there was a way I can tell unhappy high school kids that things do get better and that they don't have to be miserable for the rest of their lives--that there is an escape, an alternative; that there's no need to result to violence because, in the end, if they do choose the path of violence, they'll only be ruining their lives and those who care about them. This film is hard to take, not only because it's more of an experimental film, but also its subject matter. If you do decide to watch this movie, traverse carefully. You will remember this for a long time.
½ October 1, 2011
A somber, transfixing depiction of tragedy on a very intimate, disturbingly blunt level. The long takes hold bleak power and lyricism
½ June 19, 2015
Lethargic and poorly paced, I'm thinking this movie just hasn't aged very well(?) While Gus Van Sant clearly has something to say, the message gets lost in a haze of boredom - brought on by intentionally rambling long shots. There are a good five minutes where the camera rests statically on a small CRT TV showing Triumph of the Will. Seriously
June 28, 2007
What's brilliant about the film is that there is no theme, no reason for the climax to happen. Sick people are in this world, and there is no rhyme or reason for it.
½ May 31, 2015
A brilliant showcase of terror and horror. The only flaws are the bad acting and the random shooting of his friend at the end. Other than that, it was a brilliant film that shows the randomness and destruction that humans are capable of.
May 26, 2015
One of my favorite movies. A visual poem that starts off beautiful and ends in tragedy. Brilliantly unconventional and bone-chilling.
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