7 May 2005 | WriterDave
Bold and Compelling Treatise on Racism in Modern Society
Take the pop-cultured infused socio-political discourse of a Spike Lee movie, the glossy grit of a Michael Mann LA crime story, and the compelling mosaic story-telling technique of a Paul Thomas Anderson film, and you'll get the "feel" for Paul Haggis' stunning directorial debut. To boil a film like "Crash" down to such terms, however, would do it severe injustice. Powerful and thought provoking, this is the most accomplished and compelling film since "21 Grams" premiered back at the end of 2003.
"Crash" brilliantly shows through intertwining vignettes, that are often blazingly funny in their brutal honesty and fascinatingly gut-wrenching in their melodrama, how subtle racism (often guised in nervous humor) and overt prejudice (often exasperated by sudden irrational violence and an overabundance of readily available firearms) completely permeate our culture and everyday interactions within society. A hyper intelligent script showcases not characters, but brilliant representations of real people, people we know and pass in the street every day, people not unlike us. People who at first seem to be lost causes in the war against racism (witnessed in Matt Dillon's harried beat cop and Sandra Bulluck's spoiled District Attorney's wife) can often become the most unlikely solutions to the problem, while people who ride in on their high horse (witnessed in Ryan Phillipe's noble young police officer) can turn against the tide in the blink of an eye. No one is immune to it no matter how hard they try to rise above it (witnessed in Don Cheadle's quietly tragic detective).
In the end, everyone is flawed, the racism is inescapable, and the audience feels a twinge of sympathy for just about everyone. Perhaps that is what Haggis is hinting at to be our answer. Showing empathy and being able to relate even on the most remote level to every human being out there is the first step to that true brotherhood of man. Because the film offers no real solution, the discussion and discourse it creates in the minds of the viewers is the first step in solving society's ills. We can't tackle everything at once, but we can open a dialogue, and hopefully, one person conversing with another will be the first step to our salvation. It takes a bold film to raise such questions, and an even greater one to compel an audience to talk about the potential answers, and that is exactly what "Crash" accomplishes.