I watched Crash again last night. I’d been meaning to see it since it came out and Annie and I rented it last Saturday. The film—as the title suggests—is about crashes: in one sense of the word, it is a movie about car crashes. In the opening scene, Don Cheadle’s character remarks that in Los Angeles (a city that boomed after the invention of the automobile) people lack the close physical proximity that citizens in the world’s other large cities take for granted. That in order to feel something beyond a world of steel and glass, people crash into each other.
More importantly, Crash is about human collisions: the internal crashes of anger and fear and love inside each of us, and the external conflicts of races and cultures. The film expertly weaves several different subplots that continually draw in characters from other story arcs. I loved the way the movie surprised me when individuals from different worlds within one city were confronted with the unexpected. My favorite parts of the movie focused on the Hispanic locksmith and the Iranian (I believe) shopkeeper. When those two worlds meet, it’s just gut-wrenching.
The treatment of racial tension in Crash has merited a lot of discussion; some seem to think the movie’s characters were unrealistically racist while others see the racism in the film as an unblinking look at the cruel way people treat those they fear, justified or not. What do I think? Sadly, I think the movie gets the ugly, racist undertones in America right. However, in the film, the characters are often more vocally racist than most people act in real life.
As a final note, Crash does a great job of providing reasons for actions and events in the movie. By the time the final credits roll, all the T’s are crossed in the plot, even if life doesn’t always work out neatly.