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CRASH (2004)

LA District Attorney Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser) and his privileged wife Jean (Sandra Bullock) are car-jacked by two African-Americans, Peter (Larenz Tate) and Anthony (Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges). TV producer Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton) are stopped by police officers Ryan (Matt Dillon) and Hansen (Ryan Phillippe) and humiliated. Meanwhile, detective Graham Waters (Don Cheadle) and partner Ria (Jennifer Esposito) investigate a shooting crime and downtown, Iranian immigrant Farhad (Shaun Toub) buys a gun to protect his business and places it in a drawer as locksmith Daniel (Michael Pena) tries to repair the broken lock.

Review by Louise Keller:
With its underlying theme of racial discrimination, Paul Haggis' Crash is a hard-hitting film whose seemingly unconnected stories and characters intersect boldly, jolting us into a raw awareness of the volatility of ethnic mix in which we live. Not to be confused with David Cronenberg's 1996 film of the same name, the script uses the same circular structure as films like Pulp Fiction and Magnolia, and we are swept along by the various stories as they merge into each other. The ensemble cast, headed by Don Cheadle is excellent, each contributing to the emotional chaos.

Set in LA, the characters are vastly diverse and come from all walks of life. They all live in the same city, yet it is as though they each live in a totally different place, as events propel their circumstances out of their comfort zones. The film begins at a street intersection and soon we are taken into the worlds of two African-Americans (Larenz Tate and Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges), from the wrong side of the tracks. They, like most of the characters, are angry, and their anger colours their actions. They steal the black 4WD belonging to District Attorney Cabot (Brendan Fraser) and his snobby wife Jean (Sandra Bullock); he cares about the political impact, while she is paranoid about their safety. Thayer (Terrence Howard) is a successful Afro-American TV producer, whose beautiful light-coloured wife Christine (Thandie Newton) is subjected to a humiliating body search by a bigoted cop (Matt Dillon), who is channelling all his anger for the lack of medical treatment his ill father is getting, into his job. The hatred between Christine and Officer Ryan is tangible, and is never so potent as the moment later in the film when she is the victim of a car crash and has to rely on him if she wants to be rescued.

Some of the story strands are more engaging than others, and through the grainy and occasionally jumpy hand-held cinematography, we feel as though we are connected to all the characters. The two most powerful stories involves locksmith and family man Daniel (Michael Pena) and bitter Iranian corner shop owner Farhad (Shaun Toub). After a break-in, Farhad buys a gun to protect his business, and gets Daniel to replace the lock. Language is a barrier and aggression becomes the currency, as tensions escalate and Daniel's innocent five year old daughter Lara (Ashlyn Sanchez), becomes involved. Time stops and there are heart-wrenching moments as this storyline reaches its conclusion.

Resentment, blame, hatred, anger are the key emotions which are turned into enlightenment, compassion, understanding and love. Crash is a riveting and absorbing film. Perhaps the film's resolution is a little too neat and the story strands are rounded off a little too tidily, but there is no mistaking the symbolism of the white snow that falls through the dark night at the end.

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CRASH (2004) (M)
(US/Germany, 2004)

CAST: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe and Larenz Tate

PRODUCER: Don Cheadle, Paul Haggis, Mark R. Harris, Robert Moresco, Cathy Schulman, Bob Yari

DIRECTOR: Paul Haggis

SCRIPT: Paul Haggis


EDITOR: Hughes Winborne

MUSIC: Mark Isham


RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes



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