Review: Crash (2005)

From the first frame, I was riveted by this film. The look, the tone, the acting, the soundtrack, and the complex construction of the story drew me in and didn’t let me go until the final credit had rolled.

The intersecting lives of a diverse group of strangers, representing all walks of life in the economically and racially divided city of Los Angeles, literally and figuratively crash into one another over a period of 48 hours. Beginning with the first of many car accidents, the circular storyline dominoes from one character to another, touching on race, prejudice, hate, fear, loneliness, love, and family. The terrific cast (Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, Larenz Tate, Michael Pena, Ludacris, Thandie Newton) does writer/director Paul Haggis‘ dialogue great justice. James Muro‘s cinematography is striking and Mark Isham‘s soundtrack sets the mood perfectly.

The single greatest aspect of this film was its completely unpredictable nature. Haggis keeps you wondering, and even after you begin to see the pattern, it only confirms that anything goes. There were moments while watching this film when I was physically so tense, I forgot to breath.

The circular “small world” overlapping of plot lines worked for me as a device to tell the greater story. Like a puzzle, I appreciated the way Haggis cleverly connected the dots without having to stretch too far. The weakest link in the chain was Sandra Bullock‘s character, a one-dimensional stereotype in the film’s only dead-end storyline.

Crash is the kind of movie that begs to be discussed after you’ve seen it. There’s a lot to ponder. It raises many issues about racism in this country, and just as many questions about the perspectives of the filmmaker and the audience watching it. [*****]

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