Publicity Stills of "Crash"
(Courtesy from Golden Village)

Genre: Drama
Director: Paul Haggis
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate
RunTime: 1 hr 47 mins
Released By: Golden Village
Rating: M18

Opening Day: 7 July 2005

Synopsis :

A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who are also lovers. A black television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple… They all live in Los Angeles. And in the next 36 hours, they will all collide…

Movie Review:

Paul Haggis mentioned in an interview that he “[liked] to make people uncomfortable so that they think.” So he did, and so they will. With his directorial debut, “Crash”, there is little doubt that everyone who sees it will be intellectually and emotionally challenged.

There are at least 6 stories interweaved in “Crash”, the ways in which they coincide slightly bizarre, largely coincidental and pure editing hell. A black cop (Don Cheadle) is having an affair with his Latina colleague (Jennifer Esposito) while investigating a high-profile case, but neither knows each other very well. A maligned Hispanic locksmith (Michael Pena) is perceived to be a crook, but is in fact a hardworking husband and doting father. A black TV director (Terrence Dashon Howard) goes through a rite of passage of sorts and along the way manages to somewhat awaken a delinquent (Ludacris). His accomplice (Larenz Tate), who receives no such revelation, is assumed to have received devastating payback, as will all the characters at some point of the movie. Rest assured that the highly complex script is swimmingly mastered by Haggis, who also has writing credits.

The movie brilliantly portrays flawed characters that are both heroes and villains. No one is spared of ambiguity, not even the angel-faced rookie played by Ryan Phillippe, or the hateful Sergeant Ryan (Matt Dillon). Both go through similar albeit unique situations that elevate them from stereotypes and while the stunning ironies of their analogous stories may seem contrived, why should that be faulted? If anything, I believe it to be a case of art imitating life, since life is often self-mocking and sometimes, cruelly tragic.

Truly surprising twists and turns litter this masterpiece; there is little way of knowing what’s going to happen next. Exhilarating minor climaxes, such as the one evoked in the movie’s official poster, are intercut with poignant scenes, which in this case involves the revealing of the proverbial angel who literally heals and seemingly performs miracles. The angel here is in fact an Iranian-American doctor (Bahar Soomekh), a filial daughter who, unbeknownst to her Persian father (Shaun Toub), has saved him from a potential tragedy. There is also a very affecting major climax involving Sgt. Ryan and a black woman (Thandie Newton) he had shamed earlier, but don’t hold your breath for a be-all and end-all resolution. As mentioned, there is a great deal of ambiguity in “Crash”, but that is precisely why the movie is so effective and provoking.

What works in “Crash” is its accessibility – it doesn’t preach from a moral high ground. No one is completely right or wrong and all are as guilty as they are victims. When a sudden carjacking accident stuns the white wife of a district attorney (Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser respectively) into frantically crucifying the Hispanic locksmith, we are emotionally engaged and able to empathize with her paranoia but at the same time quietly reprove in our popcorn-covered political correctness. The only ones on a moral high ground are those in the audience who remove themselves from the stark honesty of Haggis’s characters and fail to register a link between what is being said by the characters and what every single person, regardless of race or stature, is perfectly capable (and perhaps even guilty) of saying.

What Haggis has achieved here is overwhelming, perplexing truth served on a silver platter and if that is deemed superficial, it is only because reality is difficult to grasp, harder to admit and all too easy to evade. With “Crash”, he has verbalized thoughts we are afraid to think and presented extremities we instinctively condemn, but to understand it as merely thus is to overlook the film’s purpose. “Crash” is not looking to be controversial, nor is it simply seeking our support against racism. It is meant to make us reflect on the bigotry that resides in ourselves (yes, you and I alike) and to remind us that it is a dangerous emotion that will threaten to break its silence, even in the most pristine folk, when confronted with tension. The movie ends on a somber note but it is not entirely cheerless, for hopefully everyone is a little more sober than they were before it.

Movie Rating:

Review by Angeline Chui

Talk about "Crash" in our forum

DISCLAIMER: Images, Textual, Copyrights and trademarks for the film and related entertainment properties mentioned
herein are held by their respective owners and are solely for the promotional purposes of said properties.
All other logo and design Copyright©2004-2005, movieXclusive.com™
All Rights Reserved.