The Christian Science Monitor
Published May 4, 2005
(caution: this review may contain spoilers)
There has been recent buzz about the new crime drama film CRASH, which has even been given some Oscar nods as well. This movie delves deep into the urban streets and suburbs of modern day Los Angeles to reveal the varied lives of individuals of different racial backgrounds, cultures, and ages. The director, Paul Haggis, examines racial stereotypes and parallels this with action-packed drama; he also manages to intertwine the lives of all of the characters. The film actually begins at the same scene that is at the end, a technique that relates the entire story together.
It is evident after watching the film that Haggis implemented many of his own thoughts into the movie and probably created such a film to promote a change in the social climate.There is an underlining moral message to the film: treat others with respect and have tolerance towards people of all kinds, regardless of race. Haggis promotes this moral theme throughout the film and constantly touches upon the the issue of race. The storyline of the film follows the daily lives of several people. It involves police officers, attorneys, and people of both blue and white collared professions. The inclusion of all of these people gives the movie a universal appeal; people of all kinds can relate in some way.
This film, rated R, has many racy and controversial scenes which are geared towards a more mature audience. The brief sex scenes are not appropriate for young children or minors and it also features weapons and criminal activity that need to be monitored. Despite the few seconds of nudity, there are no scenes of graphic violence or drug use. Haggis manages to portray his moral message, but couldn’t he have done it without the constant use of derogatory and foul language? Parents, please be cautioned: the film contains much more foul language than a child should be exposed to. Just about every other sentence blurted out of a character’s mouth has some sort of derogatory connotation.
One factor that had a great impact on the overall film was the cinematography, which heightened its authenticity. There was good atmosphere, which made the film seem more raw, like a docudrama. Paul Haggis chose he perfect locations to shoot the scenes because nothing was exaggerated and the locations were very common, which could relate more to the audience, conveying that incidences in the movie occur everywhere and anywhere.
In contrast to the good cinematography is the flow of the plot, which sometimes threw me off track and I’m sure many other audience members as well. At times, I found myself questioning, “What happened to that other character?” The large gaps between the different lives being examined led me to a state of confusion and I couldn’t keep track amongst the web of stories. The vast amount of characters and the individual stories being told all at once may be a little too much to handle at once. Tip for watching this movie: Pay attention! For me, I like movies to be more straightforward, but CRASH really made me think.
The cast for the film, which included renown actors such as Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, and Matt Dillon, to name a few, definitely added extra star appeal. Not only were these actors casted perfectly for their roles, but they also provided the film with genuine emotion and this really engaged the audience. Bullock was cast as a white woman who was car-jacked at gunpoint and is forced to question the motives of people of different ethnicities. She is characterized as being aggressive and unforgiving, a role which she dominates. She is tormented by the thought that somebody may be after her and after the car-jacking incident, she is in constant need of protection, but she drives everyone away from her because of her controlling and racist nature. The one bad aspect that I did not like about the characterization was that all of the individuals had a complete turnaround at the end of the film. It’s a bit obvious, but it was inevitable after all of the events that occurred that it would happen. All of the casted actors and actresses fit perfectly into the respective role they portrayed.
So is this the film of the year? Well, some can say so due to the blunt messages and controversial content, but I feel that there have been many similar films in the past and CRASH fits into their category. It is a good movie to watch if you have a free night off, but don’t go out of your way to see this film. Other than the good selection of cast members and cinematography, everything else seems to be borrowed from past movies, but just taken to the extreme.
Rating: One thumb up, one thumb down