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:: Crash

Paul Haggis’ (Million Dollar Baby) directorial debut examines racial pride and prejudice in 24 hours in Los Angeles. Beginning with what seems like a random car accident Crash rewinds time and connects nine seemingly unrelated people to the one event that will profoundly change and affect each of them.

We meet Rick, a District Attorney and his wife who are carjacked by two young black hoodlums. After this traumatic event, Rick’s main concern is over how this event will affect his “black” vote while his wife Jean’s racist attitude begins to rear its ugly head. Meanwhile the two carjackers become exactly what they never wanted whilst one of them encounters a dilemma that neither could possible imagine involving a Korean couple. Two detectives at the helm of the initial car accident find themselves entangled in an interracial romance, whilst one of them struggles with the hatred he feels towards his own people as his heroin addicted mother searches for his brother. Rookie cop Hansen requests a transfer from his partner as he witnesses the ugly side of the law only to find he is part of it too. An immigrant Persian storeowner finds there are more barriers than language that keep him from understanding people. A black couple realises that sometimes the threat is not external and a Mexican locksmith discovers that despite his uphill battle for a normal life sometimes trouble just looks for certain people.

Yes this may even sound like a wacky comedy but it is these stories that Haggis attempts to construct and connect to framework his much larger social commentary on modern day attitudes to racism. “Attempt” being the key word as it feels as if something is largely amiss here. At times, the uneven editing and storytelling doesn’t allow the characters enough space or time to really delve deep enough and prove to be more than just a well acted stereotype. The performances are of such a high standard that is seems a shame that they aren’t given more weight when some lesser interesting and quite bizarre stories, such as the Korean couple and the van, should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Stories such as the District Attorney and wife and the television director’s experience with the law and “issues” at work are strong enough to maintain enough interest for at least a third of the film, but unfortunately are left short and rushed. The way in which they all come together, of course comes as no surprise.

The cast is almost flawless with a serious and solid turn for both Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock as the DA and his wife. It can be said for Matt Dillon as the bigoted cop and Thandie Newton as Christine, the television director’s wife. The actors all transcend the somewhat and sometimes limiting script to remarkably portray these characters that slip through the cracks.

If not for anything else Crash is definitely a worthy look at some fine performances although at times lost in some ordinary storytelling.