film review - Crash
Take a few seemingly unrelated stories of people in Los Angeles getting through the drudgery of daily life with the crutch of racial stereotypes and unsettling domestic discourse, then intertwine them, and you have the basis for this brilliant, highly engrossing film.
The major acting roles are superb. I never noticed Ryan Phillipe before but he impressed me as a cop with a conscience. Matt Dillion was very convincing as a thuggish, lonely cop with home problems that have shaped his views on race relations. Then there is the Persian shop keeper, a stranger in a strange land, frightened, angry and numbed by the crime that has affected his family. There are several other known actors in this film, some of whom provide among their best performances, but the lesser known folks also shine. No one is made to seem one-dimensional and none of the scenes are wasted.
There was one riveting scene that almost brought tears to my eyes involving our Persian shopkeeper where he goes over the edge, desensitized by the vacuum of crime and his feeling like a victim, due to his own foolish prejudices.
Rapper Ludicriss plays one of the carjackers, but in his first scene, he and his partner (whose significance we learn later on in the film) are seemingly innocent, intelligent and harmless guys, out for a night outside their home area and feeling like victims in the white neighborhood. The film doesn't hestitate to play the race card, showing what many of us feel but are sometimes too ashamed to admit.
Crash, not to be confused with the David Cronenberg 1996 film of the same name, is one of the best films that I have seen this year. It's directed and co-written by Canadian Paul Haggis, writer of the Oscar juggernaut Million Dollar Baby. Great debut for this first-time director.