What I like most about Gus van Sant's Elephant were the use of tracking shots throughout and the multiple character plots converging and diverging. In addition, it was pretty smart to depict the killers entering the school early in the movie. Suddenly the rest of the movie's banality is tinged uneasily with foreboding.
Just don't expect the film to have any answers. Gus van Sant's point is that there aren't any, and he does this by presenting all the characters except for the killers, in all their banality to the point of near-stereotyping. As for the killers, van Sant does play around with audience preconceptions, letting some apply but not all.
His point? Things happen for no reason whatsoever. Metaphysically depressing, technically excellent.