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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

photo caption:
EXCEEDING HIS JOB DESCRIPTION: After being stopped by a cop (Matt Dillon, right), because she appears to match a suspicious profile, Christine (Thandie Newton) finds herself violently molested by the overly zealous police officer.end caption.

Crash: Sub-Cultures Collide in California Car "Crash"

Review by Kam Williams

If this country is as dysfunctional, divided, and demented as suggested by Crash, then Heaven help us all. Paul Haggis sheds some light on how sub-cultures inter-relate across class and color lines in present-day America. Haggis makes an impressive directorial debut with this thought-provoking morality play.

The movie is set in Los Angeles, where whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Middle Easterners find themselves separated by a lifestyle which relies heavily on the automobile. Still, points of contact are unavoidable, and it is those highly-charged moments of interaction which are explored in Crash.

A series of strangers become irreversibly entangled by chance, and this movie forces us to confront our prejudices from a fresh perspective.

Assembling a talented cast of actors, Haggis coaxes exceptional performances from Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton, Matt Dillon, Larenz Tate, and Ryan Phillippe, among others. Other actors in the film are Don Cheadle, Tony Danza, Jennifer Esposito, Ludacris, William Fitchner, Keith David, Loretta Devine, and Nona Gaye.

Early in the film we are introduced to Anthony (Ludacris) and Peter (Tate), a couple of young African-American men debating about whether they'd just been discriminated against while being served in a fancy restaurant. Strolling down the street, they car-jack an auto owned by Los Angeles District Attorney Rick Cameron (Fraser) and his wife, Jean (Bullock).

Rick's reaction is to worry whether publicity about the robbery will affect his re-election, while Jean has all the locks in their home changed. However, when Daniel (Michael Pena), a Latino locksmith arrives, her bigoted nature emerges when she unfairly suspects him of being a ghetto gang member.

Daniel's life, in turn, dovetails with that of Farhad (Shaun Toub), a Persian shopkeeper whose store has been broken into and needs a new door. Meanwhile, on another side of town, bourgeois blacks Cameron (Howard) and Christine (Newton) are angry with each other after she was molested by a racist cop (Dillon). She is enraged by her husband's failure to protect her honor.

Over a score of complex characters are eventually linked as the story unfolds. Expect to squirm uncomfortably in your seat throughout the movie, because it demands honest introspection from the viewers about their presumptions about the human condition.

The best film of 2005 thus far.

Excellent (4 stars). Rating: R for profanity, ethnic slurs, mature themes, nudity, sexuality, and violence. Running time: 112 minutes. Studio: Lions Gate Films.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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