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A dramatic film directed Paul Haggis about race relations in Los Angeles.

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"Come on now! This is America."

  • May 12, 2007
"Crash" is a film that revolves around racism and bigotry, and as such it's no surprise that it's become such a controversial film. It was a major achievement for it to garner the Best Picture Oscar (which arguably "Sin City" actually deserved, but one doesn't expect the Academy to bestow awards to those films which truly deserve them), but although it did, and although Roger Ebert proclaimed it the "Best Film of 2005" (though the film actually premiered in 2004), "Crash" has been viewed rather negatively by the general public. It's probably because most people won't be able to sit through 15 minutes of the film without becoming furious and frustrated to the point where they stop watching.

"Crash" essentially focuses on a group of ordinary people living in Los Angeles and how racism affects their lives. The first half of the film boils with anger, hostility, and, of course, racism. There was more than one point in the film where I wondered just what point writer/director Paul Haggis was trying to make. The second half, however, makes it all worth it. In the second half of the movie, the lives of the first half's characters interweave, each person affecting each other more than they'll ever know. Everything comes together. At one point in the film, a character says, "You think you know who you are? You have no idea." By the end of the film's second half, each of its characters know just who they are, and we do too. In each of these apparently despicable racists or wrongdoers, there is a good person who, when it comes down to it, can overcome their racism without thought. At its core, "Crash" points out that life is like a car bound to crash, gathering speed through every moment of our lives. Who you are before the crash isn't important - it's who you are afterward that matters.

Paul Haggis, who showcased his screenwriting talents with his script for Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby," proves with "Crash" that he is every bit as talented a director as a writer. "Crash" is an empassioned, initially sickening and ultimately beautiful portrait of humanity and its triumph over the negative aspects of society. The script, written by Haggis and Bobby Moresco, is magnificently-written and intricately plotted. The dialog sounds effortlessly realistic, helped by the performances of a very talented cast. The cast is highlighted by Matt Dillon's portrayal of a vile member of the L.A.P.D., who in the film's most powerful scene is suddenly transformed into a caring, selfless human being. All this is captured by James Muro, who shoots the movie as though each frame is a painting.

In the end, that's what "Crash" feels like: a dazzling mosiac of ordinary people and how they inevitably collide. I can understand the negative response to the movie - as I've said, I too was tempted to shut it off about fifteen minutes into the first half. But anyone who still feels that the movie is trash after watching it for its entire duration is missing the point. It's a masterwork about life and the momentum we gather with every beat of our hearts, until finally we collide, shattering ourselves into disjointed pieces. And the message of "Crash" is that it's not who you were before you fell to pieces: it's who you are after you piece yourself back together.

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More Crash (2004 film) reviews
review by . March 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
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Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of the most thought-provoking movies you'll ever see, with some exceptional acting by a huge cast. Everyone needs to see this film, especially Americans.
review by . April 29, 2009
With the success of such films as Pulp Fiction and Sin City there seems to be a new style of telling a story where there are separate tales intertwined with characters crossing over between the tales. This film takes it a step further and seems to be like a soap opera with several plots happening at the same time with characters constantly crossing over between the plots. The director performs a masterful job of this and creates an excellent tale of many separate lives that reach a crossroad and …
review by . March 30, 2009
Crash is probably one of the most thought-provoking, well-written and beautifully acted films I have seen this year. In a collage of collisions, traffic and human, the disturbing underbelly of racism in LA is exposed in all its forms, each plot line producing outrageous events and even more surprising resolutions. With a cross-section of the public, multi-ethnic characters, cops, the advantaged and the disadvantaged, Crash manages to reach beneath the smooth exterior of everyday life, revealing …
review by . November 09, 2008
Sometimes there is a reason for people to be angry; sometimes there is no reason for people to be angry. But anger, hatred, and evil, are all Entities that do not recognize the boundaries of color, religion, race, creed, sexual orientation, or social status.     'Crash' is one of the most powerful movies I have ever watched. The script doesn't miss a chance for picking on people because of exterior perceptions and stereotypes, and no one is exempt from the hate. The plotline …
review by . January 02, 2009
The movie, set in Los Angeles, follows several unrelated characters as they come to terms with crime and racial prejudice over a two-day period. Some stories eventually overlap; others do not. The characters are presented honestly with all their flaws and a few redeeming qualities. The large ensemble cast is excellent; standouts are Don Cheadle as an honest police detective who has problems at home and at work, Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser as a wealthy couple who are carjacked, Matt Dillon …
review by . October 26, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
CRASH is a movie about race and ethnicity in L.A. However, the film is more than that. It's also a movie about how we are all connected to each other and that despite the differences in our skin color, cultural heritage, and lifestyle choices we are more alike than we would like to admit.    The movie is an ensemble film that examines a wide variety of people in different parts of L.A. The film illustrates how their lives interact, or crash into each other, and how the varied …
review by . January 09, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
First: throw your stereotypes out the window. They simply don't apply here.    To say that "Crash" is a movie about race relations is true, but it also sells the film completely short in terms of the effect that it has and the stories that it tells. It's almost unbearably frustrating, even infuriating to watch, because it's honest, and it is the film's honesty that makes it well worth seeing.    The story is a complex one, interweaving the lives of several …
review by . April 08, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
"Crash" is a clever and groundbreaking movie. The story takes place in Los Angeles and weaves several situations involving prejudice and anguish; each character is usually portrayed as a victim and a villain at the same time. The movie seamlessly takes all of these people with their diverse backgrounds and their situations and brings them together so skillfully that any criticism of the movie being "contrived" seems provincial. To reflect on any of the scenarios is unnecessary and perhaps a spoiler, …
review by . March 22, 2006
With the success of such films as Pulp Fiction and Sin City there seems to be a new style of telling a story where there are separate tales intertwined with characters crossing over between the tales. This film takes it a step further and seems to be like a soap opera with several plots happening at the same time with characters constantly crossing over between the plots. The director performs a masterful job of this and creates an excellent tale of many separate lives that reach a crossroad and …
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Tom Benton ()
Ranked #121
Aspiring high school English teacher with dreams of filmmaking and a strong taste for music.
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Movie studios, by and large, avoid controversial subjects like race the way you might avoid a hive of angry bees. So it's remarkable thatCrasheven got made; that it's a rich, intelligent, and moving exploration of the interlocking lives of a dozen Los Angeles residents--black, white, latino, Asian, and Persian--is downright amazing. A politically nervous district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his high-strung wife (Sandra Bullock, biting into a welcome change of pace fromMiss Congeniality) get car-jacked by an oddly sociological pair of young black men (Larenz Tate and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges); a rich black T.V. director (Terrence Howard) and his wife (Thandie Newton) get pulled over by a white racist cop (Matt Dillon) and his reluctant partner (Ryan Phillipe); a detective (Don Cheadle) and his Latina partner and lover (Jennifer Esposito) investigate a white cop who shot a black cop--these are only three of the interlocking stories that reach up and down class lines. Writer/director Paul Haggis (who wrote the screenplay forMillion Dollar Baby) spins every character in unpredictable directions, refusing to let anyone sink into a stereotype. The cast--ranging from the famous names above to lesser-known but just as capable actors like Michael Pena (Buffalo Soldiers) and Loretta Devine (Woman Thou Art Loosed)--meets the strong script head-on, delivering galvanizing performances in short vignettes, brief glimpses that build with gut-wrenching force. This sort of...
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