If you think you are not racist, you need to see Crash. I you know you are racist, see Crash for sure. Director Paul Haggis runs you ragged, knocks the air out of you several times, picks you up, then steals your air again. Don’t expect to get out in one piece. What doesn’t bash you over the head will slice your assumptions clean open. (otherwise, you need to see it again, as I did tonight)
In Higgins’ first directorship, riding the wave of his successful screenplay for golden “Million Dollar Baby”, he is definitely trying to spawn a tour de force, and succeeds brilliantly, if a bit over-zealously. On the other hand, who can complain about a zealous treatment of racism’s insidious goblins? Yet it’s power is not overwrought or gratuitous. Every angle is handled with surgical precision, layered into a complex, “Pulp Fiction” like story. The second viewing reveals a lot more detail in the perfectly pieced puzzle of a plot, because the first time around you’ll be too stunned.
The movie is non-stop presentation of material. It’s flung at you without dilution. This guy has a lot to say, and only so long to say it. Dense.
The first half sets up the characters, while planting lots of little hints as to what might or will happen later. The different threads appear disparate at first, so you have to pay attention, but the characters’ lives quickly begin to intersect. I won’t try to summarize the plot. For that, I send you to Roger Ebert’s. There are even a few humorous scenes, but you won’t laugh for long. The humor’s absurdity is a razor.
Then, about halfway through, when all the tension is poised to explode, you feel subtle shift, like a roller coaster riding across the top of the first huge hill. Buckle up!
Higgins then begins to spin out the tension he’s built up, in a series of soul rendering dramatic scenes. Magic begins to happen. I mean real magic, the kind that takes place only in your mind. You begin to believe anything is possible. Even angels. Yes, anything is possible, but not what you expect. Serendipity isn’t always pretty.
If you don’t understand a word I’ve written, good. Go see the movie! Bring the hankies and someone to hold on to. It’s a bumpy ride through LA’s ethnic jungle and through your own cozy backyard. A ride you’ll never forget.