Saturday, 13 March 2010

79. CRASH - 2005

‘Crash’ is one big frustrating mess of a film. The premise behind ‘Crash’ is interesting: several storylines come together over the course of three days cumulating in a crash of both cars and cultures. It is a film about how closely we are all linked, about racial prejudice, about how people are not what they first seem. This film could have been great, but it has so many faults that it belongs firmly towards the bottom of this list.

‘Crash’ is set in Los Angeles and takes place over three days. We are introduced to many characters: the wealthy white housewife of a DA, a racist white cop, some black car thieves, a successful black Hollywood director and his wife, the list goes on… A series of events bring the characters together in a frankly unlikely series of events. This is the film’s first flaw: the film takes the six degrees of separation theory and runs havoc with it, causing most unlikely turns of events, not because the paths of the characters could cross, but solely because it would help the storyline. I was instantly amazed by the shift pattern of the LAPD.

My main reason for disliking this film comes from the individual stories, and how it is assumed that we should be able to identify with them. Matt Dillon plays a racist cop. He pulls over the aforementioned Hollywood director and his wife late at night, whilst she is performing fellatio. But, Dillon’s character is not just a bit racist, he is so racist that he decides to molest the offending woman. The point is made. The character is a racist cop from Los Angeles. However, the very next day, the same cop saves the same woman from certain death and risks his own like to do it. Of course, Dillon’s character once had some bad experience from black people. This is supposed to excuse his actions. I think. Even though he is racist, inside he is a good person, and this is the point of the film.
The flip side of this story involves Ryan Phillippe. He is not racist. However, when he picks up a black hitchhiker from the side of the road he shoots him when he thinks that he will pull a gun on him. The hitchhiker however was in fact only going to give Phillippe his St Christopher. In this instance, the film wants to tell us that we are all a little bit racist even if we think that we are not. Each person involved in this film has a similar story to tell, and each story is equally contrived.

It’s such a shame that a film that tries so hard to be clever ends up being a totally farcical. The individual performances are largely not bad: Dillon is notably good, as is Sandra Bullock, but there are no real opportunities to get to know these characters as anything more than props which are supposed to signify either racists who are not racist inside, or non racists who actually are, and this is why the film fails to really engage its audience in any of the carryings on between them. In 2005 the Academy had the opportunity to award the Best Picture Award to the wonderful ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and instead they opted to honour this pretentious offering.

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