Crash (2004): I actually saw this movie last week.
I was disappointed. Crash has gotten rave reviews and it talked about as early Oscar favorite for Best Picture.
It is a good movie but definitely not great.
It fails on two levels. First, it is not true to LA. I grew up in LA. I had friends who were black, white, brown and every other color. My dad (who is white) drove a bus (which in the movie is a symbol of racial injustice) and worked for the Bus company in LA for 30 years. Growing up, he had friends from Egypt, Mexico, Ecuador and many other countries. Not these, my dad had friends of every racial stripe. My Dad worked the LA riots for crying out loud. I just finished two summers bringing students to Venice Beach which is probably the most ethnically diverse beach in the whole wide world.
What's my point. Crash makes LA out to be a hot bed of racism. In reality it isn't. LA is too laid back to a hotbed of racism. I'm not saying it doesn't exist in LA but think about it from the another perspective. Given that LA is among the most racially diverse cities in the world, the question should be "Why isn't there more racial unrest in LA?" I'm sure the French would like to know.
The second major flaw in the film is its unrealistic portrayal of racists. My experience with racists teaches me that racists are mean, hateful people who use racism as a brand of hatefulness reserved for people of other races. Crash portrays people who are kind and decent in most of their lives but racist when it comes to those outside of their families. I think the last 50 years of racial integration and awareness has made this very rare. I would argue that today, overt racism is largely perpetrated by people who are cruel and rude across the board, and racism is just the insult du jour when confronted with someone of another race.
What makes a film like Magnolia (be advised regarding the 2-3000 F-words) so much more powerful than Crash is that Magnolia portrays families in a way that corresponds to how most families actually are (going back to the Biblical times for that matter). Crash is full of racists who, for me, were not true to life.
I suspect some of the positive reviews of this film stem from fear of panning a movie that makes racism it's target. That's too bad. Truth loses in a world of political correctness. For a much more realistic picture of racism see Monsters Ball (be advised regarding the nearly x-rated sex scene).
My Rating: Rentable