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The film follows the days of a student and skateboarder, doing his school and boarding routines. He is not too good, but ambitious enough to try to hang out at the stakeboarders’ place called Paranoid Park, a place for those trying to step outside their regular lives, trying to probe bits of rebellion. The rebellion ends when an accident happens that gets the school and the Park under scrutiny of the police.

What is this film about? About Gus van Sant trying to dig ever deeper into the minds of people he finds particularly interesting – teenagers, apparently. There is no plot to speak of, just that desloate feeling of a life slightly empty, where even the leisure of skateboarding feels somehow tired and grey. The places where the kids hang out are backlots, islands of wasteland in the middle of the big city. Life is full of obligations, there is a demanding girlfriend (played by a terribly untalented or misguided actress), non-interested parents, touchingly effortful ambitious police investigators, and death. This death breaks the routine, by way of being very sudden and very gory, and no wonder the reflecting kid gets only more reflective.
I actually believe that the film was overhyped by the reviews, I think that there is very little that has not yet been investigated during “Elephant”. It is a worthwhile effort on the inner life of a school kid, but not much mor than that. The excitement attributed to the movie by some may have more to do with those people being already so far away from high-school reality that the very depriction of school realism strikes them as exotic.

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