This movie about high school cliques and violence feels more like being stuck in detention. In Gus Van Sant's meditation on the inexplicable randomness of a Columbine-like killing at a high school, the camera follows different kids around--from the loners to the jocks--to try and capture an ordinary day and its tragic ending. But Van Sant's arty tracking shots linger too long, and he handles his subjects with a detachment that leaves you feeling equally uninvolved.
When the guns start blazing, it's horrific--kids' chests explode with videogame violence, while the triggermen don't express one ounce of regret. The final message about senseless violence is loud and clear, but the journey to that message could've used a better sense of direction.