The International Writers Magazine:Review
Directed and Written by Paul Haggis
Sandra Bullock .... Jean Cabot
Don Cheadle .... Det. Graham Waters
Matt Dillon .... Sgt. Ryan
Jennifer Esposito .... Ria
William Fichtner .... Jake Flanagan
Brendan Fraser .... Dist. Atty. Richard 'Rick' Cabot
Terrence Howard .... Cameron
Ludacris .... Anthony (as Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges)
Thandie Newton .... Christine
Ryan Phillippe .... Officer Hanson
Larenz Tate .... Peter Waters
Tony Danza ... Fred
Exploring the themes
of racism and prejudice, chance and coincidence, cause and effect, and
personal tragedy, "Crash" is an honest portrayal of the seething discontent
and change that is the LA of today. Set over a 24-hour period in contemporary
L.A., it is a comment on life in modern LA.
A place so different to the city of 30 years ago.
Although the most obvious connection here is to PT Anderson's brilliant
'Magnolia' 1999 even down to using Aimee Mann in the soundtrack
as snow rather than frogs fall from the sky, the real antecedent is
Joel Schumaker's Falling Down (1993) which thought he was telling
of a personal nervous breakdown in LA, also showed us the transformation
of the city that was filled with racist overtones and bubbling anger.
it's own film and an effective demanding drama at that that gets to
grips with an LA poisoned by the well of anger and race hatred. Much
like New York a hundred years ago, LA has had wave after wave of 'strangers'
sweep through it since the 1970's and now almost everyone is a stranger,
a different colour, a different religion and each one is suspicious
of each other. I doubt LA was ever homogenous given it's history, but
for the cops, in thier imagination, LA was once, probably a white town
with 'christian' values (whatever they might be - lynching included).
Now it is just a seething, angry place and watching this film is painful,
but gripping and illuminating.
that comes out of Hollywood now is so empty, so shallow and has so little
intellectual value you retain nothing but disgust for the people who
make such disappointing garbage as The Wedding Crashers, Fantastic
Four, Bewitched, Charlies Angels 111; it's just so utterly mind
numbing. Crash then punishes us and purges us, reminds us of
the real world and like the fluid and mesmerising Collateral
by Michael Mann, shows LA in a real, harsher light. It engages our minds
and hearts and although we may not feel sympathy for many of the people
in this film, we have all been guilty of sharing their thoughts about
others and acknowledged or not, we are as frightened of strangers as
Howard plays Cameron, the TV director who has to make daily compromises
to keep his 'job' and when the racist cop Sgt Ryan feels up his
wife at the side of the road he is powerless to defend her and is
humiliated in front of her. Just one moment of truth in Crash.
Sandra Bullock plays
against type as the neurotic, lonely rich bored wife who has just been
robbed at gunppoint by two young black dudes, along with her husband,
the District Attorney (who is having an affair with his beautiful black
assistant). He is a white liberal, but doesn't want to to be seen pinning
a medal on an Iraqi called Saddam. He is the consumate deceitful LA
politician, hardly aware that he is racist. Don Cheadle is a black cop
trying to do his best, honest, yet cynical. Matt Dillon (always underated
and always amazing) plays an opportunistic cop who is racist but fate
draws him towards Thandie Newton twice in one day. First he abuses her,
then he saves her. It is the nature of this film to present us with
coincidences without comment. (Much like Magnolia).
There is more, young
and old characters resentful of what others have got, immigrants whose
English leads to almsot fatal misunderstandings and Ryan Phillipe plays
the good white cop who, as it turns out, is as suspicious as anyone
else in a race situation with fatl consequences. There are black people
making compromises for their career and being humiliated and white people
falling victim to positive discrimination, chinese who are profiting
on illegals and everywhere, someone wants what someone else has and
There are no redeeming
characters, no easy answers, it's awkward viewing, but like Magnolia
and Falling Down, these are films that go a long way to display
the bitter truth of American life and this is compelling viewing.
and experience one of the most remarkable and well crafted films of
2005. Paul Haggis who wrote and directed this film and wrote (Million
Dollar Baby) deserves
more exposure. One would hope this film is remembered come Oscar time.
© Sam North
Aug 22nd 2005
Sam is the author of The Curse
of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
Lulu Press ISBN: 1-4116-3748-8
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