Classic Film Review: Crash (2005)

And the Oscar Goes to:

Crash, 2005

Directed by: Paul Haggis

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate

 

Crash, an American drama film with a stellar cast, focuses on the racism, social tensions and bigotry in Los Angeles. Crash focuses on several different little stories, and carefully weaves them into one overarching narrative, much in the same style as 2003’s Love Actually and 2011’s New Year’s Eve. From a racist police officer, who molests a black woman after pulling her over, to a black detective whose carjacking brother has gone missing, everyone is presented not only as victims, but as abusers, as it is not necessarily consigned to black and white, but there are Hispanics and Asians who each have racial arguments with one another.

Crash, as an Oscar winner, has caused a lot of upset and shock. Racing up against Brokeback Mountain, The Hollywood Reporter even conducted a poll in 2015 of hundreds of Academy members who voted in favour of Brokeback Mountain taking the prize. It was even voted first on Film Comment magazine’s list of ‘Worst Winners of Best Picture Oscars’ (followed by Slumdog Millionaire at #2 and Chicago at #3).

Featuring a stellar cast, though, it’s no surprise to see the acting in Crash very well done; while only one cast member was nominated for an Oscar (Matt Dillon), the rest all performed to a very effective standard.

The film was funny when it needed to be, serious when it needed to be and heart-punching when it needed to be. And all that is a credit to the writers and the actors. There are moments of pure joy in this film but they are hidden within larger moments of such sadness; the missing carjacking son of a drug abusing mother, a store owner whose store is pillaged, Sgt. John Ryan’s (Matt Dillon) father’s issues. Each presented beautifully to really get you involved with the plot, and hoping for some resolution.

The finale, then, linked a large number of stories together (each story touched at least another one) and forced people to be racists and also sufferers of racism (or in the case of most white people, they either go from racist to friendly towards other colours, or vice-versa). Each character had a journey in the course of the two days this film was set during, and each journey was very well done.

Overall, though, the film is beautifully shot and very well-acted, but it seemed to lack a major incident tying all these plots together (such as Love Actually’s final show), instead we have a car crash, which we then move away from and carry on each journey. I personally prefer Brokeback Mountain as a film (so I’m on the side that said that Brokeback Mountain should have won 2006’s Best Picture) but this is still a very good film.

 

Plot: * *

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Overall Rating: * * * ½

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