Is there something about the 4:3 aspect ratio that makes Elephant more intimate? Probably not in a cinema like the UGC Shaftesbury Avenue, which without framing blinds presents everything on its big white wide screens with acres of white spaces on the side. At the Curzon Soho, the encroaching of the blinds recalled nothing more than seeing an old ?classic? there. It made me settle down for something which might not be state of the art but would undoubtedly be good for me.

Gus Van Sant?s suggestion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is remarkable for how tense it is. With each increasingly banal insight into the petty jealousies and angst of teenage American?s makes it clear how rigid the teen movie is. In Dawson?s Creek everyone has a plot. In Elephant, they all lost the plot quite some time ago. That isn?t fair, there is no plot to be lost. Clich?s are fulfilled (the purging, non-eating girls, the self importance of all the teens), but not in order to make any sort of point. What it reminded me of was my own teenage years, bullied and seeking for a way out. I resorted to weapons too, chairs being easier to get than semi-automatic weaponry. But given the choice?

That said, has Gus Van Sant ever seen a first person shooter game? The one in Elephant seems remarkably unchallenging, since no-one ever shoots back. Which fits nicely with the final sequences when they inevitably come, but takes the edge off of the verisimilitude. And does no-one ever go to class in US High Schools?