A Crash Into Reality
By Lauren Nguyen
New York Times
Published May 6, 2005
CRASH is a new crime drama film that was introduced on May 6, 2005, that took its audience by surprise with its controversial content and message. This film, directed by Paul Haggis, monitors the lives of a group of people of different status in society and shows how their lives will all collide within a matter of three days. The characters that are portrayed range from people that live high profile lives to common people of the streets and all of them are connected; it strongly resembles the idea that everyone is separated by six degrees and the film shows how easily these people influence each other’s lives. CRASH also shows the dual nature of mankind-how everyone, regardless of ethnicity is good-hearted, but how social stereotypes leave them tainted.
This academy award winning film features a distinguished cast to portray the post 9/11 society of bigotry within California as it challenges modern day misconceptions about race. It also shows the convergence of several races-African American, white, Latino, Mexican, Chinese, Iranian- and the relationships and fears that many people have. The film itself has an underlying moral message of racial tolerance that the director, Paul Haggis, most likely shares, but does the film really deserve the hype it has received? Well, when taking the storyline into account, there are many good and controversial points that make for a successful film, but Haggis fails to subtly incorporate many thematic elements. These bluntly stated aspects of the film such as the “coincidental” connection that ties all of the strangers together fail to resonate well with me, but it does not hinder the overall message of the movie.
CRASH begins at a crime scene and in a cliché manner and at the end, it ultimately comes full circle, which answers many of the lingering questions posed in early scenes of the film, but it also leaves the audience with even more questions- such questions like, “what happens to the good cop-does he get caught?” Questions like these may not enhance the message of the film or enhance it, but it leaves audience members like myself with bantering thoughts. The plot is filled with emotions at every scene and never leaves the audience at a stagnant point. The constant action and development of characters builds upon the several messages encompassed in the film.
Overall, I definitely have to say that I enjoyed the movie, but I need to admit that I was initially intrigued to watch it due to the star-studded cast. The cast, which includes high ranked actors like Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, Terrance Howard, Thandie Newton and Sandra Bullock acted alongside some fresh faces in the acting industry which included the well-known Chris Bridges (infamous as the rap artist, aka Ludacris) and Michael Pena. All of the actors enhanced the final product and had it not been for such great acting, I do not think the film would have been as great. It’s sad to say that the characters added more interest for me to watch the film. However, let’s not forget how wonderful and authentic the acting in the movie was. Sandra Bullock was amazing in her role as an ignorant wife. But the star of CRASH would have to be Chris Bridges, whose acting debut was in this film. For a first time actor, his emotions were real and he outshined many of the other high profiled actors. I applaude the director’s selection of cast, as it definitely enhanced the movie.
The whole good cop versus bad cop and black versus white issue is very prevalent in a lot of movies out there, so this is where the film may have lost its novelty. But maybe this is what Paul Haggis wanted? There needs to be a reason behind the movie’s blunt nature and perhaps it deals with Haggis’ urge to directly get the message out the audience. Overall, his method works well and he is able to get his underlying messages across. He is able to get his message across that society needs to rid itself of the racial stereotypes that have sustained over the years and through the aggressive nature of the movie, he is successful.
So back to the original question: Does CRASH deserve the recent hype and praise it has received? The simple answer is yes. It may be a difficult movie for the audience to like because it is so straightforward, but that’s the beauty of it- Paul Haggis wanted to push the message out there and it creates an engaging film.
Rating: Thumbs Up