Tagline: You think you know who you are. You have no idea.
Synopsis: Diverse characters collide during two days in Los Angeles where race, religion and politics fuel the fires of deep seated prejudice and discrimination.
Meat & Potatoes: I have mixed emotions about this film (not to be confused with the other Crash movie by master David Cronenberg to which I like very much). I like Paul Haggis (though he did pen 196 episodes of Walker: Texas Ranger for 8 years). I’m not a big fan of hype of any flavor and after the awards season (Crash won 3 Oscars) I felt inundated with pressure to like this film. I avoided it in the theaters for the same reason, feeling that I should wait it out and view it in the comfort of my own space – devoid of temptation to eat too much popcorn or search my pockets for the change making noise against the easy-chair. That being said, I like parts of the movie. The relationship between Michael Pena’s locksmith character and his daughter were touching and believable. Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges and Larenz Tate‘s characters were flawed but interesting, Haggis turning questions of stereotypes and prejudice into an opportunity to push the microscope of race relations even further into the lives of often opposing antagonists. Yet overall I feel that this film tries too hard to cover what cannot be covered in a single film – that is the tumultuous, often indefinable nature of so many divergent characters. Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser and Jennifer Esposito are stilted, card board caricatures of people with issues and no clear way of dealing with them in a meaningful and believable way. Don Cheadle‘s talent was lost in the same muddiness that prevents his relationship with Esposito’s character from ringing true – I could have spent much more time exploring the dynamics of their relationship. Sure, race relations and government corruption are the threads that connect or separate these lives but not enough to make me care – aside from several standout performances by Michael Pena and at times Matt Dillon (though admittedly I’ve liked him since Rumblefish and The Outsiders). All in all I appreciate moments here but they are fleeting or too far between to keep this version of contemporary America from finding an intersection in my home town.
The Closer: There are ‘no easy answers’ in life but salacious stories about predictable, one-dimensional scenarios set up by characters I’d akin to minor distractions while channel surfing just leave me reaching for the remote control.