Monday, May 09, 2005


Review by Devin Sullivan

After penning Million Dollar Baby, Paul Haggis makes his directorial debut with CRASH. This is one of the most graceful flicks I've seen all year. The pacing, the performances, the writing are all very graceful, especially considering the material. Haggis tackles the issues of race, class, and American solitude through the lives of more than a dozen characters in the city of Las Angeles. Not only does he pull off the juggling act with his characters, but he weaves a political/racial message into the mix as well. Not once while watching the film did I find Haggis' message to be preachy or contrived either. The characters presented all had depth to them, and Haggis did not seem to resort to any stereo types. Even Matt Dillon's racist LAPD officer had empathetic sides to him, as he struggled to help his dying father. There are several outstanding, and Oscar worthy, performances in this film, including Don Cheadle's emotionally troubled detective taking care of his drug-addicted mother. However, I found that the best performances in this film came from the unknowns. Michael Pena (Million Dollar Baby, and United States of Leland) stood out most for me in this ensemble cast. Playing a Hispanic locksmith, Pena's character is probably the most sympathetic of the film, but is also key to one of its best sequences. Another of his better scenes involves him and his daughter, who has hid under her bed in fear of what sounds like a gun, and displays Pena's range as an actor. Another notable performance is newcomer's Chris "Ludacris" Bridges work as a young, car jacking, black man who feels that he is profiled by everyone around him. While some of the characters in CRASH carry more weight than others, the ensemble cast, and engaging story line make for one of the more impressive dramas that I have seen in a while. Haggis shows that despite his humble beginnings, (Co creator of Walker Texas Ranger) he has visual style and a real talent for story telling, not to mention balls. 8.5/10

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