Structured in elegantly fluid and elliptically interconnected episodes from a roving, multiple student point-of-view, Elephant is an incisive and poetic, yet relevant and deeply disturbing portrait of the unfolding of a fictional, modern-day high school massacre in suburban America. Van Sant presents a richly textured and complexly interwoven series of mundane student interactions and astute slice-of-life observations (except for a scene of sexual experimentation between the plotters that seems improbably out of character) that are intrinsically linked together through long and sinuous tracking shots of the school’s cold and impersonal labyrinthine corridors and rooms. What emerges is a profound sense of alienation and the oppressive, inescapable, and moribund institutionalization of its adrift and desperate characters.
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