As the title reveals, this movie is an homage in part to the 1989 BBC film by the late Alan Clarke that depicted Northern Ireland's sectarian violence as relentless--"as easy to ignore as an elephant in the living room." In a similar way, Van Sant portrays high school life spiraling into violence.
Using long tracking shots and natural sounds, Van Sant allows the material to accumulate from a variety of perspectives to its dramatic climax. But the frustration of his depiction is its very objectivity--the lack of any attempt to analyze or comment on psychological motivation or resonance. "Elephant's" detachment leaves us feeling short-changed. Starring Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Elias McConnell, Timothy Bottoms, Jordan Taylor, Carrie Finklea, Nicole George, Brittany Mountain, Alicia Miles and Kristen Hicks. Directed and written by Gus Van Sant. Produced by Dany Wolf. A Fine Line release. Drama. Rated R for disturbing violent content, language, brief sexuality and drug use--all involving teens. Running time: 81 min