Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Review of Crash

"Crash" as a movie has many problems. However, since I'm devoting my time to write a review of it, it's saying something. It's an ambitious effort that tackles an important issue called racism in America, especially in LA. But it's too obvious. And racism is not as black-and-white as the movie portrays it. Even though the movie treats blacks and whites as multi-dimensional characters, it still looks at Asian and Middle Eastern people with one-dimensional character. This still shows that while gringo directors are slowly undrestanding the African-American culture, they still have no clue about what Asian and other non-mianstream cultures think and behave. For a more accurate portrayal of Chinese and black culture, try "Rush Hour 2" starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. ("Never mess with a black man's radio.")

I admire Paul Haggis's courage to tackle such momentus issues, but he needs to do more research. His previous screenplay "Million Dollar Baby" was more successful in the way that it was more subtle and was less meticulously calculated. The dialogue in this movie, on the other hand, seems forced and unlikely. The only situation in this movie that I believe would actually happen in real life is Matt Dillon's encounter with a black female employee at the HMO office. That is a scene that most of us can identify with.

Though the movie is problematic, it makes us think. It makes us think about the inequality in this world, especially in America. However, by showing us the different scenarios in the film, Mr. Haggis also shows us the typical white man's view about racial inequality, which is very limited. It increases the viewer's awareness about the race issues, but it simultaneous shows his weakness in not looking at racism from all angles. Another movie that comes to mind is a failed Asian-American film "Better Luck Tomorrow." It's a movie about Asian-Americans from an Asian-American point-of-view except that in reality Asian-Americans do not act like that. Similarly, Haggis would like us to think blacks, whites, Koreans, Iranians, Latinos act the way they do in the film; unfortunately, that is far away from the truth.

The main problem of "Crash" is: In order to overcome stereotypes, the film is trapped in the very stereotypes it seeks to overcome.

I would mildly recommend the film to those who care about race issues and those who seek to admire courageous writing and directing, if you don't mind the movie wandering aimlessly and arriving at no set conclusion.

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