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Movie Review: Elephant

Story: Director, writer and editor Gus Van Sant took the Best Director and Palme d'Or Awards at this year's Cannes festival for this disturbing take on a Columbine type event.

This film is not for everyone. Its structure is nonlinear and occasionally repetitive as the camera follows selected high school students (victims) through episodic moments of their last day. The camera eerily floats behind each student creating a detached, yet spooky point of view. The tension is constant as we are well aware of the foregone conclusion. Van Sant has chosen to depict this event in a quiet, sometimes even boring presentation to convey how regular these kids' lives seemed to be.

What leads to this type of violence? What makes kids explode? There are no answers here other than the obvious disconnect and lack of guidance that so many of the kids endure. That big elephant in the corner that no one wants to deal with - eventually will kill.

Acting: Most of the kids are nonprofessionals and that works very well.

Predilection: Van Sant is a visual director (he attended the Rhode Island School of Design, my alma mater) and his films always have an unusual perspective that I enjoy watching.

Critters: Some dogs (none of them get hurt).

Food: School cafeteria gruel and pancakes.

Visual Art: Teenage art angst projects.

Blatant Product Placement: None

Soundtrack: Beethoven

Opening Titles: Stark

Theater Audience: A few silent observers, who like me, got up very slowly at the conclusion of the film.

Quirky Meter: 2

Squirm Scale: 3

Predictability Level: High

Oscar Worthy: The jury is out on this one -- but I doubt it.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: If you can stand it - I say try the big screen. If not, since HBO brought it to the screen -- it will probably be coming your way pretty soon on TV. Some other Gus Van Sant films to rent: Gerry, Finding Forrester, Psycho, Good Will Hunting, To Die For and My Own Private Idaho.

Length: 90 minutes