Cast: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Terence Howard, Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton,
Ludacris, Daniel Dae Kim, Tony Danza, Jennifer Esposito, Brian Fraser, Ryan Phillippe
Director/Writer: Paul Haggis
Theatrical release: 2004; available on DVD
Be aware... Crash is rated R. While not the easiest movie to watch, language and some of the 'scenery' are the least of it. Winner of the 2005 Best Picture Academy Award, this film is important as much because the story and subject matter can be discomforting as because the filmmaking is engrossing.
Crash interweaves the lives of several seemingly disparate people and eventually brings everything together in one explosive situation. Even with a plethora and rainbow of characters, the well-crafted film draws us into the lives it touches, as well as the everyday occurrences that result in lost opportunities and build to breaking points.
Screenwriter and director Paul Haggis — screenwriter for 2004's Best Picture Million Dollar Baby and well known for TV writing that ranges from Love Boat and Walker Texas Ranger to LA Law, Due South, and thirtysomething — deftly links and overlaps the lives of an amazing number of characters. We're swept into the film because we've come oh-so-close or have actually experienced similar challenges ourselves. The encounters we see on screen represent interactions that are far too typical. Yes, the film is "about" much more than race, and it's way more complicated than black-and-white, as is 'real' life.
Actor Don Cheadle, whose screen character is not always sympathetic, is also a producer on the film. Sandra Bullock's breakout dramatic performance took critics by surprise — favorably so. No doubt, you'll be surprised at the number of other recognizable actors who enliven these character studies. Even if you don't know their names, you'll know their faces.
The power in the writing, portrayal, and filming is that each actor/character spends relatively little time on screen, and yet, we come away feeling we know them and recognize their dilemmas. The mirror Crash holds up to and for us demands that we take a good hard look.
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