The events and characters depicted in this motion picture are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Yeah, right, Gus; next you're going to try to convince us you're not JT Leroy.
How does this film get made with such an untrue disclaimer, and without a based on a true story exordium? Were there protests from the families of the murdered Columbine students? What about from Eric Harris's and Dylan Klebold's parents? The similarities between the two killers in this film and Eric and Dylan are almost exact, especially their clothing worn on the day of the shootings, and their murderous trajectories through the high school.
Is making Alex deft at playing Beethoven's Für Elise, instead of being a fan of Rammstein, all it takes?
I'm amazed that this film was made the way it was.
Which is not to say I didn't like it. I think it's a good film; it tries one's patience (I haven't seen Gerry, which I hear is excrutiatingly trying), but I've always been a patient guy. Maybe that's why I'm so good at chess.
It may be boring, but it's also disturbing; because, even though we know what's coming, it feels a little too real when it eventually arrives. It's a shock, regardless of how well one knows the story. And that's how it should be. I'm actually glad Van Sant was able to direct, because I think that, in another director's hands, the story would have been overdramatized, cliched. I hope Paul Greengrass took notes while prepping for Flight 93. Neither movie deserves to profit from such tragedies (I'm glad both are free to be made, but firmly believe that both studios should use all proceeds to compensate the bereaved families, and as donations to charitable causes, rather than help make rich people richer off of innocent blood). You might agree or disagree. If, god forbid, a situation arose where I had to make a choice between consenting or refusing to have my murdered loved one(s) story told on film, I'd probably refuse. I'd definitely refuse so soon after the tragedy, which is what amazes me so much about films such as Elephant, which go into production so soon after a catastrophic tragedy (if you can call 3-5 years "soon"; I would, because of the emotional circumstances).
The film has a documentary feel; and, like a typical day at school -- at least how I remember high school to be -- it's pretty dull. We see characters who appear likeable enough, but, like the real victims and killers, we don't get any insight or indication of how they really feel. There are no answers. In that sense, it's a poor dramatic film -- but that's how it should be. The film's few missteps occur when it tries to be "a movie," rather than a re-creation of events. Alex and Eric's homosexual shower tryst and the three girls bathroom purge come to mind.
The worst misstep, however, is the film's final scene. It's obvious what immediately happens next, but what happens after that is left for the viewer to imagine. Which is frustrating (probably intentionally so), because we(I) don't want the film to end without the final death: a suicide.
NB, I believe that every death in the film, except Eric's, isn't shown with the character's face pointed toward camera. Maybe that's incorrect; but if true, it's analogous with the film's reluctance to show or provide insight to each student's motives and character. And it makes sense.
Current Laundry List
Once Upon a Time in America
Gangs of New York
Full Metal Jacket
Kagemusha The Shadow Warrior