Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Crash by Paul Haggis

"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." - opening line of the film

My wife and I finally had a chance to sit down uninterrupted and see one of the most talked about movies of this last year: Crash. Writer-director Paul Haggis uses the film as a vehicle to explore our culture's multifaceted racial tensions (be they real, imagined or perceived), set amongst an outstanding cast of characters (Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Brendan Fraser, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate, Thandie Newton, Matt Dillon, and Nona Gaye), whose lives intersect shortly before Christmas in post-9/11 Los Angeles.

And while I see great cause for it being "one of the most talked about" recent films (few films dare to go to such lengths to explode the topic of racial stereotyping), I can't seem to reconcile which of the two camps I fall into: love it or leave it. Without spoiling the plot for those who haven't seen the film, and without going into too much detail, the reasoning behind my position lies wholly in the field of objective potential. The film has tremendous potential to generate thoughtful conversation about one of the most difficult topics to discuss, but in the process of laying all its cards on the table, the film may be defiantly adhering to the further establishment of our already deeply entrenched biases (even if the film offers a small resolution here and there). There's no question of the film's merits. My doubts are only levelled against the ability of the viewer to actively engage with the topic enough to come to a lucid awareness of the core. This is where I feel Haggis takes a tremendous leap of faith.

3 1/2 stars out of 5

[Of course, I might be wrong: Crash just won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Picture - you don't have to take my word for it!] -edited 03/07/06

Roger Ebert wrote an excellent review of the film that touches on the criticism that one could level against the film, while upholding all of the film's virtues (of which there are, in fact, many). Still more criticism can be found on Metacritic.

For more information, see the film's website.


At 7:39 PM, Blogger Jeannette said...

I also have mixed feelings about "Crash." I loved the performances and found the issues raised thought provoking. I found the way that the characters were brought together was overly contrived.

I don't want to believe (and so I don't) that racism is as pervasive (at least in LA) as the movie portrays, but I read an interview with writer/director Paul Haggis who said that some of the incidents in the movie happened to him or people he knows. There were a few incidents in the movie that I found hard to believe. Without giving too much away, one of the characters does something that indicated a major personality change in a short time period. I didn't buy that.

It was refreshing to see Sandra Bullock play a different role than she has in the past. (Although I usually find her characters very likeable.) I also liked the performances of Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard and Don Cheadle.

Not sure that I would have voted for it as Best Picture...but it's been some time since I saw the film. I'd like to see it again.


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