User Ratings (0 Votes)
Starring: Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, Thandie Newton
Director: Paul Haggis
Running Time: 112 mins
Crash is an American film about the stories of a number of LA citizens whose lives crash together as they experience racism, prejudice and all its effects in the modern day.
Its reputation as one of the Oscars’ ‘least deserving’ Best Pictures precedes it, but the truth is that Crash is actually really rather good film. Although it takes a while to properly find its feet, and struggles with often preachy melodrama throughout, the film does have a strong emotional core, and once you really start to understand its characters, it proves a whole lot more impressive.
However, the film’s opening act is its biggest stumbling point, starting off in irritatingly blatant fashion with its rather on-the-nose portrayal of racism and prejudice in the modern day. That’s not to say it’s a subject that shouldn’t be tackled head on, but the way the film won’t stop directly mentioning its main theme right from the first scene means it unfortunately comes across as a little preachy, without giving you a chance to fully connect with the characters and various situations at play.
So, with a little bit of a rocky start, Crash is a film that does take a little bit of time to settle in, with its strongest and most powerful moments coming towards the latter half of the movie.
That’s because the film takes a bit of a step back from that on-the-nose attitude to its main theme as the second act starts up, and instead brings back some of the main characters, finally giving you the opportunity to understand them as individuals, rather than simply seeing them as defined by their various racial prejudices as is the case in the opening act.
From that point on, Crash works really well, both as a riveting and emotional character piece with an impressive ensemble cast, as well as a hard-hitting and insightful portrayal of the nature of racism in the modern day.
With a few real stand-out sequences in the middle of its many vignettes, particularly the second encounter between Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton, as well as a spectacular moment of drama from Terrence Howard, the film really gets into a stride through its final two acts, proving both a fascinating and equally moving watch right to the finish.
Another big plus from the film is its impressive balance when it comes to portraying the effects of racism. With a view of the issue that spreads over a much wider range than most films, it thoroughly looks into elements of racism that you may have never even considered, all the while giving due balance to the characters representing those who both engage in racism and are victims of it, something that ultimately makes Crash a very well-rounded and consistently eye-opening.
Finally, a word on the film’s dramatic style, which undoubtedly tends heavily towards extreme melodrama. Again, in the film’s first act, when you still don’t have enough character depth in the story, its biggest and most dramatic moments come off a little awkwardly, as it tries to entice you into getting really riled up by what’s being portrayed on screen, but instead falls short of the mark due to the lack of emotional depth.
The second and third acts are definitely better in that regard, although still feature some rather cringeworthy moments of melodrama that take away from the genuine depth and power of the story at hand.
Overall, then, I was really impressed by Crash. Although it suffers occasionally with unwarranted melodrama, as well as a first act that really is a little too on-the-nose, it comes good throughout with a shift towards a character-focused story, allowing its main theme to be played out in riveting and moving fashion more naturally, and ultimately proving a thoroughly engrossing watch, which is why I’m giving it a 7.9.