I would like to think that if we were to take several people of all races and throw them into a room together that their similarities would outweigh their differences and the group would manage to get along. Granted there would be a couple of bad seeds that would sooner than later become outcasts, but I would like to think that would not have anything to do with racial prejudices, but more to do with the fact that those are just bad people. Not because of what they are, but because of who they are.
While my view on this subject may be optimistic and not exactly a “real” view of the world we live in, it is the world I live in, therefore racially driven films always seem to frustrate me, especially when the people are so damned stubborn and ignorant as a couple of the characters we find in Crash.
Taking that into consideration and then tossing it into this coincidence driven flick my interest quickly waned from interested viewer to frustrated soothsayer as every next scene is so obvious that I quickly became detached from the story and not able to care for the well-crafted characters Paul Haggis has so carefully drawn out.
Confused? Well, let’s just say that Paul Haggis has followed up his masterful Million Dollar Baby script with one equally as brilliant, one thing Haggis knows how to do is craft characters you care about and put them in situations where you become concerned for their well being. On top of that the casting of this film couldn’t have been any better as each actor carefully assumes the role they are put in especially the likes of Terrence Dashon Howard, Don Cheadle and Sandra Bullock.
Dashon Howard has been around for a long time, but his acting has stepped up over his past few films from his roll as Ray Charles’s manager in Ray to his performance here in Crash as Cameron, a black television director, forced to compromise his values in more than one racially charged situation. Forced to watch his wife be sexually assaulted by a racist patrol officer then asked to tell one of his actors to “act more black” when it is believed he is speaking too well in his role. His eyes and energy emote such feeling that you cannot help but become involved with his character and feel for him in such trying times.
Those are the types of situations you are going to run into with this film as Cameron and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton) are just two of the central characters that play out this web of coincidence that for me lost its luster but for many will be viewed as a work of art. I say this not to confuse you, but to encourage you to make your own judgment based on my description of the film, because it is truly good filmmaking, its realism is jarring, a fact that also played a role in my opinion.
I simply have such a hard time believing that people still act this way. In a period piece I accept racial differences and prejudices because it is portraying a time where those problems ran rampant, but I would like to think that we have come far enough to where people understand that people are people, not a group of colors. Along with that I have a massive dislike for films that play up the coincidence angle, only because you know what is going to happen next, you know that someone’s good intentions and values are going to be tested in the end, and in most cases they are going to find themselves becoming the thing they hated to begin with. For me this is just frustrating, but for others it is considered the real world, so go figure.
Crash is a film that many will connect with, and as far as filmmaking goes this one is a brilliant effort from top to bottom and Haggis proves he has a long career ahead of him. The coincidence driven plot just hurt the overall appeal for me, but for you it may be a completely different story.