In "Crash," whites, blacks, Latinos, Koreans, Iranians, cops, criminals, the rich, the poor, the powerful, and the powerless collide, and are racism's victims and its perpetrators. Presuming that most people at least resent people of "different" groups, Director Haggis has coincidence, serendipity, and luck knock his characters into each other, and shatter negative views. Throughout all such turns, the actors avoid cliche.
Racism can prevent us from seeing the actual person before us. An Iranian (Toub) thought Arabic (Iranians are Persian) and a district attorney's white wife (Bullock) both think a Hispanic locksmith and family man (Pena) a crook. Scared by a street incident, the D.A.'s wife has her locks changed, then fears the locksmith will break into her home. The Iranian can't understand the locksmith's speech, and buys a gun, but not before a shouting match with the seller. A black cop (Cheadle) in an affair with a Latina one (Esposito) never finds out her native country. A white TV producer tells a black director (Howard) a black actor "doesn't sound black," not thinking that the director doesn't, either; nor do two young black men (Tate and Ludacris), who dress and act like college students, but aren't.
A white cop, Ryan (Dillon), stops the car in which he thinks he sees a black man doing something he shouldn't to a light-skinned black woman he assumes is white (Newton). Watched by a rookie (Phillippe) who hates what's happening but must support his partner, Ryan gives her a humiliating, invasive body search, as her husband stands by, helpless. Ryan seems vile until we see him try to help his dying father; when he explodes that an HMO is racist, we know it's his lame excuse for real anger at the hospital.
When the plot loops on itself, both cops work to save the lives of the TV director and his wife, and all the characters learn what their actions have caused. The few who kill or die remind us how tragic racism is; we all pay for it. Anyone who sees "Crash" can find increased sympathy for "different" people. Superficially different, the people here share a city, and learn how similar are their hurts, cruelty, and hope. Until several hundred years ago, few people ever saw anyone who looked different from them, and so weren't racist because they only knew of one race. Thus, "Crash" is about progress, however awkward it sometimes seems.
Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco
Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fra
Racism Los Angeles
English Reviewer's Name:
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