By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
Highly regarded by many people as the worst film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards is this drama from Paul Haggis who was the screenwriter for great films such as Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale and the director of In the Valley of Elah. It features a well-known cast including Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard, Ryan Phillippe and Thandie Newton. The film follows the characters set in the duration of two days in Los Angeles where racial tensions build up to dangerous heights.
Haggis also wrote the film where people from different parts of the world would encounter each other and it would quickly become hostile and uncomfortable for each other. The problem I feel that a lot of people have with this film is that it doesn’t depict real life accurately and it exaggerates on every word said just so there can be an argument. Argumentative characters doesn’t mean that it is dramatic, but every character seems to have a problem with each other whether it would be because of their skin color or how they dress or speak. They’re not written in a way that they are subtle so the film as its thread is very obvious in its theory that everyone in L.A. is possibly a racist or prejudice.
In certain aspects, I actually can watch Crash and be entertained and in some cases, be moved. The story is shown in sequence to get the idea that the tensions throughout the different sub-plots are building up which could hit breaking point at any moment to remind the viewer that you never know what’s round the corner in life. The scores for the film created by Mark Isham were placed well to help draw me into the dramatic moments such as in one scene in the beginning of the third act which is the most impact moment in my opinion where the score ‘A really good cloak’ almost drives the emotion out of you by itself. It’s one of those moments where you know what can happen, but you don’t want it to.
A big problem with the star-studded cast for me is that no one really shines enough to steal it. A lot of films with an ensemble cast usually has a person that shines a little more than everybody else to hope for the award nominations or critical recognitions. Every actor is in competition because they want to be the best that they can be. In Magnolia, Tom Cruise had such a different role than we are used to seeing and had strong conviction so he stole every scene he was in. In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger brought his own character to create one of the most memorable villains in cinema history. In Crash, although Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon were very believable in their roles, I feel that they could have pushed harder.
Creating a film that revolves around how people act towards other people of a different race was always going to be a tough thing to do. I believe that Haggis tried his best and shows that maybe everybody on their own level have their prejudices against certain people. The problem that Haggis has though is creating the characters’ prejudices too far which takes away a lot of the potential to keep the viewer wanting to see the story develop. I think that at least some of the characters change their views a bit by the end of the film, but they maybe shouldn’t have felt that way anyway in the first place as you shouldn’t judge a person before you know them.
My score for the film is 77%. Lowest mark for entertainment, highest for soundtrack. It probably takes a few views to try and see what Haggis really wanted to show and I feel that it becomes a film that an audience will either hate or love. It is a mixture of anger, emotion and emptiness felt at the same time when watching this film that beat Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain to the highest award in the awards season.