"Elephants" assembles 10 actors in various unscripted interactions, and contents itself to "watch them living things" in maddeningly shallow focus.
Real life doesn’t supply plots or neatly presented characters, so why should cinema? So demands Emmanuel Saada, failing to grasp the universal human need for narrative in his feature debut, “Elephants,” which assembles 10 actors in various unscripted interactions, and contents itself to “watch them living things” in maddeningly shallow focus. Saada’s camera swirls and orbits like the proverbial fly on the wall, its depth of field insufficient to perceive the faces of two parties at the same time, leaving audiences treading water as they try to force connections in this stereotypically French offering whose sensitivity verges on solipsism.
The gaggle of personages includes two pairs of sisters and a few mopey men. After breaking up with his pregnant g.f., one guy randomly follows another character home, where he crashes on her couch. The film offers the progression of months as signposts, but doesn’t appear to be moving anywhere, as funerals, fights and various life events unfold with minimal words expended. Receptive audiences will find Saada’s interest in his characters sufficiently poetic to groove on the pic’s melancholy mood, though confusion and exasperation are equally reasonable responses.