Monday, March 10, 2008


Watched the 2006 Best Picture winner, Crash, last night and as is so often the case I find myself torn between two opposite points of view. Some people told me Crash was hokey and contrived and stupid and rubbish, others told me it was political and important and intelligent. Ten minutes in I was wrestling with whether I thought it was good or terrible and my conclusion is this….

I think it is a film that asks to be taken as a whole. At times I was annoyed by the lack of a story, wanting a thread to follow, but as the film goes along and the characters begin to intertwine I found myself liking it more. By the end there were enough moments that smacked an emotion punch (and boy do some of them hit hard!) for me to like it… with some reservations.

I feel like a lot of the films problems would have been remedied if it had been better directed. Paul Haggis is a very good writer - he was pivotal in revitalising the Bond franchise with Casino Royale, he also wrote Million Dollar Baby, which makes a very interesting companion piece to Crash. But when it comes to direction, he directs everything in the style of coverage, with slightly wobbly cam, which isn’t quite documentary shaky but isn’t Speilbergian precision either. There is little sense of an eye for telling a story, almost as if the camera is a nuisance rather than a tool. This gives the film a floaty, flimsy quality, which does the lightness of the film’s conceits no favours.

Finally, upon its release, lots of people talked about race and politics in the film, but there was very little talk about the obvious religious subtext. Firstly, the film is set at Christmas; there are lots of Jesus and Mary and Santa figures littered about the place, and the whole film is about ideals concerning innocence, compassion and forgiveness. It is clearly intended as a kind of parable.

In conclusion, if you approach Crash with a cynical, detached, British sense of cool you may well find yourself laughing at the films contrivances. But if you go in with an open mind, willing to receive an American fancy that dares to say, we might just work it out in the end, there is an enjoyable, engaging film waiting to be seen.


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