2004 - R - 113 Mins.
|Director: Paul Haggis|
|Producer: Don Cheadle, Sarah Fenn, Sven Clement|
|Written By: Paul Haggis|
|Starring: Don Cheadle,
Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillipe
|Review by: Tamika Johnson
|Official Site: www.crashfilm.com|
Rarely do I find myself equally liking and disliking a movie but that is exactly where I find myself with 'Crash,' Paul Haggis’ first film following the critically acclaimed Million Dollar Baby. 'Crash' follows a group of people in L.A. as their lives collide unexpectedly and violently over a forty-eight hour period.
Vex in the city
'Crash' works because it takes an honest and serious look at racial, ethnic and class relations in Los Angeles a city that is the epicenter of such tensions. Instead of just offering the same overused stereotypes, 'Crash' forces you to look at what you think you know about these issues from a point of view you may not have previously considered.
The movie is helped in part by the amazing performances of the cast. A star studded cast doesn’t necessarily guarantee great acting but in 'Crash' the actors more then deliver and there are several Oscar worthy performances in the film.
Don Cheadle is outstanding as usual as a hardworking detective whose mother loves his thug younger brother more than she does him. Matt Dillon is convincing as a bigoted cop who is caring for his ailing father, and Sandra Bullock’s performance as the WASP wife of the district attorney who is very honest about her contempt and fear of anyone who doesn’t look like her, is arguably the best of her career. It’s easy to forget that Bullock is a pretty good actress considering her recent choices in films ('Miss Congeniality 1' and 2 come to mind) and rarely have we seen her in a dramatic role, but she does an excellent job here that is more than worthy of a little gold man.
'Crash' isn't perfect however, and relies too heavily on coincidence. The movie wants you to believe that all of these characters intersect in a two day time span in a way that irrevocably changes each of them, and for many alters their view of the world. I realize that L.A. is a small town in that everybody knows somebody, but give me a break. I didn't believe that Matt Dillon’s character would be the only cop in the city, or Michael Pena the only locksmith. or that Terrance Howard's character would be one of only two people driving a black Lincoln Navigator in the city of L.A. And haven't we seen this device many times before, when one of the young thugs would just happens to have a cop for a brother? The movie tries hard to make you believe that all the coincidences are possible but it just doesn’t work.
I can accept that the lives of these characters intersect here and there but the movies insistence that they all connect in some way takes away the level of reality that the movie strives so hard to achieve. Everyone fitting into this nice little circle rings false and is actually completely unnecessary to the telling of the story.
'Crash' also suffers because it offers little to no analysis of these issues. It more or less says, “Here it is -- do with it what you may.” I didn’t expect answers and would have been very disappointed had the film tried to offer any but if offers very little in the way of hope and when you lay such heavy material on an audience you should at least offer an alternative where things might be able to get better.
Despite these criticisms, 'Crash' is still a must see movie. I think in a country that has managed to convince itself that race issues no longer exist, this film is a stark reminder that the reality is, that there is still a lot that needs to be and should be done. Often we don’t have the opportunity or we simply don’t want to look at the world outside of the little box we have created for ourselves. 'Crash' forces you to look outside of that box and in the end I believe you will be better for it.
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