Movie Review: Crash

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In 2005, Paul Haggis’ screenplay titled “Million Dollar Baby” won an Oscar for Best Picture for 2004

Then in 2006, Paul Haggis’ screenplay titled “Crash” won an Oscar for Best Picture for 2005. The movie was also nominated for Best Director (Paul Haggis), Best Editing, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay (Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco) and Best Supporting Actor. In the end, it won 3 out of the 6 Oscar nominations.

The plot in the movie is simple and complex at the same time and it about several characters that crossed path with each other in 36 hours.

The characters includes 2 young African American car-jackers, a white District Attorney and his wife, an African American police detective who is having an affair with his Latina female partner, a white police officer and his partner, a African American television director and his wife, a Mexican American locksmith, a Persian American store owner, his wife and his daughter, a Chinese shop owner and an African American secretary at a doctor’s office.

Many colourful characters in the same movie and it were interesting to see how Paul Haggis inter-twines the relationship between the characters.

The central character in this movie has to be the car-jackers. They steals the car from the District Attorney and his wife and on their way to deliver the stolen car to a workshop, accidentally hits the Chinese shop owner who was standing by his van. They then tried to hijack the television director’s car, only to have the tables turned around them. One of the car jackers leaves with lesson learned whilst another takes a hitch hike in an off-duty police officer’s car who then get shot when the police officer mistaken the car-jacker’s action.

There is only an on-going drama between the Persian shop owner and the Mexican locksmith. The back door of the Persian shop is not working and the Mexican locksmith is engaged to fix the lock. But the locksmith, who had worked in the District Attorney’s house, replacing the locks after the couple’s run in with the car jackers, tells the Persian shop owner that he has replaced the locks but the problem is not the locks but the door. He tells off the shop owner to replace the door instead. The shop owner refused to listen to his reasoning and refused to pay for the job done. But when the shop was got broken in and the place was in ruin, the shop owner gets angry and goes after the locksmith who returned to his loving wife and daughter with a gun.

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The confrontation between the shop owner and the locksmith is one of the powerful scenes in the movie. The shop owner in the fit of anger shoots the locksmith but get shocked when the locksmith’s young daughter gets in away and took the bullet. The locksmith and his wife cries over the life-less looking daughter whilst the shocked shop owner drops the gun in guilt. We were made to think that the girl is dead but she was not.  Even the locksmith got a surprise when he realised that his daughter was still alive and without any wound.

The Persian shop owner realised his mistake but later relived that the bullet that he used turns out to be blank bullets (revealed in the end).

There is a run in with the police officer (played effectively by Matt Dillon) with the television director’s wife. Matt Dillon molest the wife in front of her husband when she refused to stay in the car and keep her mouth shut when the couple was pulled aside by Matt Dillon and his partner (who ends up shooting one of the car jacker) after noted that the car that the couple was driving was of the same model reported stolen earlier (it was the model that the District Attorney was driving before it was car-jacked).

The wife gets angry with her husband who refused to stand up for her when she was molested and their relationship gets even worse thereafter. The wife and Matt Dillon meets up again when the wife gets involved in accident and Matt Dillon ends up rescuing her from her flaming vehicle.

Paul Haggis’ story and easy direction makes flow of the story uninterrupted although it takes some effort to keep in mind the various characters in the movie.

Some of the dialogues are simply brilliant. For example, when the African American police detective is having sex with his female partner and got interrupted by a phone call from his mother, he says:-

Mom, I can’t talk to you right now, okay? I’m having sex with a white woman.

And his partner got upset being labelled “white”, he continues to say:-

Oh, shit. Come on. I would have said you were Mexican, but I don’t think it would have pissed her off as much.

For a movie that was made with a USD6 million budget, done within 36 days and has one the best plots around with many characters, it deserves the Best Picture award.

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