Directed by: Paul Haggis
Written by:Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate
Released: May 12, 2005
Grade: B+

If you like ensemble films, check out Magnolia.  Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, it’s an incredibly well-woven drama with a myriad of stories which cleverly interrelate.  It’s one of the best films of the past 10 years and I own the movie poster, the DVD and both soundtracks.  It sets a high benchmark which I doubt will be eclipsed.

Written by Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby), Crash is a bold attempt at an ensemble drama which falls slightly short.  In a mere 100 minutes, there’s not enough time to develop the characters and have the audience form an open-minded opinion on them.  The film should either have been lengthened or had fewer characters included.

That said, I emphasise my use of the term “bold” because the film manages to leave an impression despite its shortcomings.  We may live in a more politically correct society but there’s an undercurrent of racism and discrimination that is swept under the carpet by so many.  Haggis uses his film to show a few of these stories.

There is a wealthy couple (Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser) who are carjacked on an openly lit street.  There is a young police officer (Ryan Phillippe) who is having difficulty with the unethical behaviour of his more experienced partner (Matt Dillon).  There is a promising film director (Terrence Howard) struggling to stand-up for himself both at work and at home with his wife (Thandie Newton).   There is a reputable police detective (Don Cheadle) sleeping with is partner (Jennifer Esposito).  There is a Persian store owner trying to start a small business.  There is a locksmith wanting to spend more time with his family.  There are two young guys roaming the streets in search of drugs and opportunity.

Some of these stories are more interesting than others.  Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton and Ryan Phillippe deliver the film’s better performances.  You may be frustrated by the fact that the script lingers on some of the less stimulating tales.  You might also be disappointed by a less than satisfactory conclusion which thinks that a music montage can sum it all up.  That technique was much more effective in Magnolia and Donnie Darko.           

Overall, Crash is worth your money but given my own love for ensemble pieces, I can help but also express some dissatisfaction.