Crash Paul Haggis

Crash is an ensemble piece weaving together overlapping stories about race over two days in Los Angeles. Though well done in places, Crash falls victim to the very racism it attacks. A smart black detective (Don Cheadle) looks for his carjacking brother, who robs the D.A. (Brendan Fraser) and his spoiled wife (Sandra Bullock) before running down a Korean-born immigrant smuggler. A racist veteran cop (Matt Dillon) alienates his young partner (Ryan Phillippe) after harassing a successful black Hollywood director and his lovely wife (Thandie Newton). An immigrant Persian shopkeeper threatens a Hispanic locksmith, and so on. Stories entwine, sometimes in marvellous ways, sometimes seeming contrived. Everyone expresses racist views unapologetically and directly. Crash paints a disturbing picture of a multiracial America bordering on warfare, as symbolised by car crashes, but this is a skewed picture. While the black characters are strong and dominate the film, the Latino presence is weak despite the fact that Latinos are the largest racial group in L.A. county (44.6% of the population, compared to 31.1% white). Despite outnumbering blacks (12.3% to 9.7%), Asians are relegated to window dressing, stereotyped as immigrants who: a) can't speak English, b) smuggle illegals into the country, or c) are victimised by other racial groups. And South Asians are invisible. The numbers are important, because Crash purports to reflect real modern-day Los Angeles, but it's a city seen through the eyes of white filmmakers. I admire Crash's directness, its taut storytelling and fine performances, but I cannot accept its hypocrisy. Crash is a lie. Special features centre on the commentary by director Haggis, co-writer Bobby Morseco and star Cheadle, which is too casual and doesn't reveal enough of the filmmaking process. The "behind the scenes" featurette is the standard EPK full of glossy self-analysis. (Maple)