One of the “big” movies of the year was Crash. By big, I mean important, not good. I finally saw it on DVD and found it wanting.
First, I judge Crash on its apparent intentions. It seems clear to me that the film intends to say something about the state of race relations in contemporary society, and (on a lesser level) to say something about life in L.A. On both counts, I didn’t find it particularly successful. The primary metaphor, highlighted in the title of the movie, is that the citizens of L.A. live most of their lives in cars, separated from their fellow humans by glass and metal, and that car crashes are an attempt to break through that barrier. I lived in L.A. for the first 26 years of my life and (until the last couple years) used to get back fairly frequently. So, trust me when I call bullshit on this one. Car crashes in L.A. are no more meaningful than they are anywhere else.
And another thing, who are these idiots who keep coming up with the idea of snow in L.A. as a concept? It was on an episode of Joey, and the Monk Christmas special ended with snow in San Francisco. Again, as a former resident, wha–? Why don’t we ever see movies and TV shows about people in Miami pining for snow? Rhetorical question, I think you can figure out why.
(Honestly, you want snow? Get in your fucking car, it’s probably a 90-minute drive away.)
Many of the racist actions in the movie seem more the product of a person just being an asshole. For example, Sandra Bullock’s character Jean Cabot clearly would be a jerk, even in a world filled completely with white people. And Don Cheadle, as Det. Graham Waters, has one scene where he speaks crudely to his mother on the phone and then insults his girlfriend’s racial heritage; the whole exchange seems really out of place for his character — or at least the way Cheadle plays him the rest of the movie.
In a sprawling movie with a large cast, it’s okay for people to run into each other in odd ways. But it really stretches credulity for two cops to have a racially charged encounter with a black couple and then for each of those cops to separately run into the husband and the wife the next day during a moment of crisis.
The movie has two racist characters have their moments of epiphany with the objects of their hatred. Oh, so now we know where Sgt. Jack Ryan (Matt Dillon) draws the line. He’ll grope a black woman in front of her husband, but not allow her to die in a car crash. He’s a nice guy after all! And Jean Cabot’s best friend is her Hispanic housekeeper — how lovely! I’ll bet she really appreciates that special relationship with her employer!
It was okay. Good cast. Little overblown. I’d rather have seen one story with the character played by Ludacris, than the rest of the movie.
Ask yourself this: What was more revealing about race in America today? Crash or two hours of television coverage of Hurricane Katrina?