“Almost all of them are still alive at the end, and are better people because of what has happened to them. Not happier, not calmer, not even wiser, but better. Then there are those few who kill or get killed; racism has tragedy built in.”
- Roger Ebert, review of Crash
I’ve read some reviews of this film online, and I think others have done more justice to the film than I could. So I’ll “review” my emotions as I watched this film and as I was driving home alone last night.
Graham: Its the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In LA, nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.
Crash (2005, Lion’s Gate Films), opens with various people in various situations just living life. The characterizations are over the top for at least the first thirty minutes. I thought the sense of racism looked heavily stereotypical, a la Archie Bunker and Fred Sanford. I know people like that, but that many people in such a confined space of story felt contrived. Saying that, as the movie moved along I found that I’d probably joined in the judgmentalism of the characters, taking my own prejudices and exposing them right alongside the steretypes.
Anthony: Look around! You couldn’t find a whiter, safer or better lit part of this city. But this white woman sees two black guys, who look like UCLA students, strolling down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear. I mean, look at us! Are we dressed like gangbangers? Do we look threatening? No. Fact, if anybody should be scared, it’s us: the only two black faces surrounded by a sea of over-caffeinated white people, patrolled by the triggerhappy LAPD. So, why aren’t we scared?
Peter: Because we have guns?
Anthony: You could be right.
As the film moves through the activities of a day, situations and chance encounters among the characters reveal more clearly the levels of hope and/or hopelessness each is bringing to the table. While trying to rise above ethnic expectations, or sinking into excuses and prejudice, each character “crashes” into others at random accidental intervals – their lives are shaken, and what’s filling the glass spills out, doesn’t it?
I was pulled into each vignette. Even though certain scenes had appeared in trailers and commercials, I didn’t know the power within the story to laugh and to cry at the same time – “I’ll protect you, Daddy”, completely embarrassing, laughing and crying like that – and to be surprised in an explosive moment and in a quiet embrace. I was right there, emotions hanging out all over the place, buying into the whole idea that we’re not as good as we seem to ourselves, and others aren’t as bad off as we’ve judged.
I called everyone I could think of as I drove home. “Best movie of the year” – “best spiritual movie since The Big Kahuna” – “Might be in my top five list”. I loved the world as I drove home. Traffic was a bear – standstill on the interstate, where three lanes were reduced to one so evening work crews could paint an overpass. And in my sappiness, it was just beautiful – no kidding, the way people let other people merge left was inspiring, and no one tried to be the idiot speeding ahead in the emergency lanes or ahead of everyone to skip further up before merging left. I felt like I had no enemies, no one to turn against, no one I could point fingers at on anything at all. Not only had I been pulled into the movie emotionally, but it had impacted me, been pulled into me to be experienced and lived out as well.
If you can’t tell, I liked it. Five plus stars. Not for everyone, and I understand that – probably judgmental on my part, and I’ll have to work that out, won’t I?