So I'm rolling out a new feature here at Copygirl X. I'm calling it "I want my 2 hours back" and it's where I'll review said craptacular movies. Hopefully I won't be using this feature too often. This week I present:
Directed and written by Gus Van Sant and released in 2003, this movie got surprisingly good reviews. The tag line is "An ordinary high school day. Except that it's not." The movie follows random high school students through their day and ends in a gory school shooting rampage. A noble subject to make an honest film about for sure. I have no problem with the subject matter of the film. My problem is the way the story is presented.
This is NOT a normal high school. Long spotless hallways, a population of mostly Anglo students, and the apparent optional classes. None of these students seem to ever go to class! Instead, they take endless, meandering walks down school corridors on their way to nowhere. They play football or relax in the quad. Now, we do see a gym class and the humiliation of locker room changing when you aren't part of the popular clique and a GLBT meeting, but no lectures, no homework, no note passing.
During lunch the camera takes us on a tour through the kitchen- again, huge and spotless- where we notice two students taking a quick break from working to smoke a joint in a kitchen closet. Here's the thing- high school stoners are smarter than that. No student would smoke a j. in the middle of his lunch shift INSIDE the kitchen. They'd walk across the street to the park or the laundry room of the neighboring apartments or where ever the smoking place is. True, they might come back higher than a kite with reeking skin and clothes and eyes so red they look like the undead, but they wouldn't smoke in school.
We also meet a group of girls who go to the bathroom together to puke after lunch. Once again, these are not real students. I mean, I knew those girls in school- they didn't all puke at once because that would be too obvious and someone would talk to a teacher who would call the girls into the principals office to have an intervention.
One nice (sort-of) part of the film is that the shooters motives are never explained. We're supposed to gather that high school is so terrible, so lonely, so whatever that the students were driven to kill their classmates.
It really made me sad that every character in the film was reduced to the most blatant of stereotypes. I have a feeling that it was a choice to present them that way, and it makes the movie 2 dimensional and crappy. It is a beautifully shot movie, so if you like watching "film" for the sake of film, have at it. Otherwise, don't waste your time.