Pulled In Many Directions

Not-so-daily rambings about my life and my thoughts

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mini Movie Review: Crash (2005)*

*I've yet to see the 1996 David Cronenberg film...

What is there to say about a movie that takes on a beast that lies within us all, prejudice and racism? This is a movie that asks us to look at whether there really is quite a difference between lynching a man and choosing to cross the street when you see someone who doesn't look like you come up in the path you're traveling.

Every group is under the microscope here: Middle Easterners, blacks, Hispanics, whites and Asians. The film asks some really good questions: If you are a minority and live a high class life, are you selling out? Is it possible to be "not black enough"? Is it a form of racism to mix up someone's home country for another in that region? Can anyone be totally free of racist or prejudicial thoughts or are we all racist to some degree?

It's just a damn shame the story is so heavy handed and everyone is painted with a very large brush. I liked Crash but don't see how it took the Best picture Oscar when it was placed side by side with Brokeback Mountain. Both movies deal with A Message, but I think Brokeback handled the delivery of its Message with more style than Crash.

The dialogue seems forced at points, the director ready to artificially escalate a situation so that racial epithets can be thrown down with the threat of violence not too far behind. I understand that yes, this happens sometimes, probably more often than I can ever comprehend, but I can not imagine that a black man dating a Hispanic woman would, even in a fit of anger, call her the wrong nationality and then when corrected, dismiss it, saying it doesn't matter because "you all park your cars out on the lawn." I think in reality he'd be dumped pronto.

Even when the writer introduces a side of the character that we are not supposed to expect, something that is supposed to add depth to the characters, it feels forced. Hey! The racist cop is a good son to his dying father! He humiliates a black woman by performing a cavity search on her in front of her husband (yes, that cavity!) and then redeems himself by rescuing the very same black woman he degraded not even a day before! A Persian man accidentally shoots a little Hispanic girl when he was actually going for her father, a man he thought cheated him out of a repair job. But wait! The Persian man's daughter knew he was going to do something stupid and so bought a box of blanks to go with the gun! So the girl is saved and the Persian man is left to think about his actions and what brought him there in the first place!

There are quite a few other storylines in this movie. Another thing I found unbelievable was how tangled up everyone was in this movie. I know about the whole Six Degrees of Separation thing, but everyone coming into contact with everyone else would hardly happen in L.A. the second biggest metropolis in the United States.

After I saw Brokeback Mountain, I was haunted for days by the last image, and the movie certainly drove home a point about whether it's gay love or straight love, it's always important, always essential to have someone who can understand you. Crash is definitely well-meaning and at points it is thought-provoking, but many times, I felt like I was being manipulated to feel something. You could argue that is the point of all dramas, really, but it's better of course when you don't know you are being told how to feel, isn't it? Taken separately, its many story lines are compelling, but as a whole, the film lacks cohesion and it doesn't do justice to the Message it is trying to convey.