Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 120 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: An inside look at an American high school on what appears to be an ordinary day.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 37
  2. Negative: 2 out of 37
  1. 100
    It simply looks at the day as it unfolds, and that is a brave and radical act; it refuses to supply reasons and assign cures, so that we can close the case and move on.
  2. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    I haven't been crazy about a lot of Van Sant's recent work, but what he does here is simply astonishing. [November 2003, p. 25]
  3. Calmly, almost serenely, Mr. Van Sant and his superb cinematographer, Harris Savides, reveal a vision of contemporary American youth quite unlike any other.
  4. What the film does extremely well is take us deep into the crime scene, and give faces to the victims so we can experience this epic, incomprehensible and somehow prototypically American act of violence on a more personal and intimate level.
  5. 75
    Van Sant's audacious, poetic and emotionally distanced film doesn't even have a plot. It's just a random series of incidents one day at a suburban high school.
  6. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    It's a daring and original effort, yet so noncommittal--so purposely vague--that it's apt to leave you flummoxed: at once stricken and etherized.
  7. A braggart piece of empty exhibitionism.

See all 37 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 73
  2. Negative: 27 out of 73
  1. May 10, 2011
    What makes this movie so wonderful is the fact that Van Sant doesn't offer simple answers, because no one knew what was really going through those kids minds. He portrays an ordinary high school taken over and does so with an incredibly haunting style. Expand
  2. Mar 31, 2011
    Gus Van Sant--A **** genius. This is one of the greatest movies that he's done. And that would be saying a lot, considering his track record. It's just brilliant. Expand
  3. Apr 29, 2011
    An amazing movie. As you can see by all the negative votes, it's not one of the idiotic, spezial-effect packed movies that you see in the cinemas too often. It showcases the incident without creating the "good ones" and the "bad ones". It's up to one to judge. If all you want to see is pure action without anything even close to a story, skip this one, because this will make you think. Overall a great movie, but not really suited for everyone. Expand
  4. Sep 20, 2010
    Through the end, this movie is quite dreary, gloomy, and even egregious for some explicitly violent scenes. However, Van Sant makes this movie astonishing, and this move is totally sensational. Expand
  5. Apr 12, 2013
    it disturbs me as to how many of those "users" who reviewed this film did so only at face value, and did nothing more than judge it by it's superficial exterior without giving any thought of it's social commentary. Maybe they'd forgotten that typical high school tropes (once viewed as benign) had taken a dramatic and violent left turn over the course of the last 30 years. Maybe they've forgotten the dirty ramifications of our countries past and flippant attitude pertaining the law of guns (using the second amendment as the proverbial crutch to further purify their agenda). Maybe, and just maybe, a movie like 'Elephant' gives supporters of lax gun laws another reason to cry bloody murder, re-thrown back towards the film industry. Who knows. regardless, there is a story to tell in Gus Van Sant's shocking (though cathartic) tale of a typical (or "typically violent") day in america's public school system......and for once, it doesn't have to be soft, or even pretty.

    not a bad film (though not an extraordinary film) 'elephant' is a vivid and fictional depiction of a typical American high school shooting; one that nearly mimicks to the 'T' the events of April 20, 1999....or simply, the Columbine Massacre. Whether it mimicks it or not, it follows in a series of many shootings that has kept the nation in proverbial stalemate, often times being the catalyst to current gun laws and the feasability of an archaic second amendment to the American constitution. No matter what side of the fence you reside on, the connotations of lax gun laws in this film are not only prevalent, but glaring. Take for instance a scene depicting an 18 year old kid purchasing a high powered assault rifle over the internet. Is that troubling enough for you?

    This isn't exactly a far fetched Suspense/Horror film shot with an art-house aesthetic.......these things actually happen.

    Whether there is validity in the films claims, it really doesn't matter. Albeit, not entirely a moot point, the fact that the fllm was still met with a barrage of unnecessary bad reviews says a lot about our nations apathy towards gun violence, and the kids who remain victim of it today.

    As for the is a bit trite and somewhat pretentious at times. It still manages a decent commentary on today's standards of low morals, false empowerment (by both the bullies and those who kill them) and the collective apathetic eye of the world. If you are bothered by this movie, or in any way find it to be in bad taste, try to remember what you did the day you learned about the Sandy Hook Murders. If you only read an article about it, congrats. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, absolute congrats. If you can tell me the name of the killer, some of the names of the children, the rifle that was used in the killings and some of the conspiracy theories passed around the internet........well, then you are in fact the reason major news corps love reporting on these things; 24/7 and for the world to see. *3.5 out of 5 stars"
  6. Nov 28, 2012
    The subject matter is utterly appalling, but there's no doubting it's a very well made film.
  7. Mar 27, 2011
    This movie is so bad, it is not even worth writing a review about. It is beyond ridiculous. It looks like a home video, with bad dialogue and bad acting, freakish characters, no plot, no pace, no nothing. How can anyone give this a rave review ? I wonder why it is that you have to endure 99 **** movies, just to find one good one. It is like searching for the needle in the haystack. I think the problem is that with today's technology, everybody can make films, so there is a lot more crap out there than before, when studios had to think of something good, because it cost a lot of money to make films, and they had to make sure they would make it back. This film is the bottom of the barrel. Expand

See all 73 User Reviews