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“Crash” Synopsis and Evaluation, Book Review Example

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Book Review

“Crash” was co-written by Bobby Moresco and first-time director Paul Haggis. The story in Crash moves from one group of dynamic characters to another, all of whose lives appear to be unconnected. Only at the end of the movie are their relationships revealed. Based on a thorough exploration of racism, an understanding of cause and effect, an appreciation of chance and coincidence, and bewildering misfortune, the title serves as an image for the impact strangers experience as their lives cross paths and intertwine in the course of daily reality. Crash is set in present-day Los Angeles and the events of the movie occur over a 24 hour time period.

Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Ryan Phillipe and Larenz Tate are some of the actors featured in Crash. This proven cast delivers a script that manages to both shock the audience and warm hearts at the same time. At the center of the movie are five disturbing events: two car crashes, a carjacking, the vandalism and destruction of a neighborhood store, and the alarming shooting of a police officer. All of the drama takes place with a racist Los Angeles police department hanging overhead. The camera shifts from character to character, as each wrestle with their own moral tangles, colliding into each other as they deal with the consequences of their own decisions and actions. The lives of each of the characters are changed forever as the story lines reach an unsettling, common, and familiar end.

The themes of the film are related to the various aspects of prejudice. The most pervasive theme is racism. The white policeman–whose father lost his janitorial business due to preferential affirmative action practices–is angry at African-Americans. A young African-American carjacker spouts the inflammatory Black Power rhetoric of the 1970s. Stereotyping is another theme in the film. For example, the white DA’s wife suspects the locksmith of being a gang member because of his ethnicity. The clash of cultures is illustrated by the Iranian store owner who interprets the well-meant remarks of the locksmith about a damaged door as a shake-down for more money. The theme of class disparity is explored in the contrast of characters. For example, the African-American director and his wife are upper class in terms of education and income while the African-American detective has worked his way into a middle-class job and his mother is a drug addict and his brother a criminal. The DA’s wife, who lives in the wealthy Brentwood area of Los Angeles, is constantly complaining about her housekeeper/nanny, a struggling Latina. Inhumanity is yet another idea explored in the film: a policeman sexually humiliates an innocent woman, an HMO representative capriciously denies services to a suffering man, and another man is engaged in the modern slave trade. In contrast to the commonness of cruelty, the film also contains images of people’s humanity. The housekeeper comes to the aid of her employer, the policeman risks his life to save the same woman he assaulted, and the carjacker gives up a chance to sell a van-load of people into slavery.

By depicting so many aspects of prejudice, and by showing both the causes and effects it has on a variety people and their interactions with one another, Crash forces the audience to confront their own prejudices. Each viewer must ask himself or herself: “Do I judge others based on stereotypes? Do I fear people who are different from me?” For most viewers, the answer is uncomfortably, “Yes.”

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