Movie review

Crash

Directed and co-written by Paul Haggis

Rated R

Distributed by Lions Gate Films

In the beginning of “Crash,” the directorial debut of Paul Haggis (he won the Oscar for writing the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby”), you hear what you think is going to be a long narration by Don Cheadle. Outside, it’s smoky and steamy, and it’s night. He’s just been rear-ended. His voice is soft, slow and clear. He’s expressing the explosion that humans need to have happen every now and then, so we don’t live our whole lives inside the bubble of the glass and metal of a car.

He’s arguing that the car’s protection keeps us from interacting with everyone else who’s also bubbled. We’re in Los Angeles, the bubble center of the universe. Cheadle’s quietly explosive words only last about 30 seconds. He’s an L.A. detective investigating a dead body. His partner, Ria (Jennifer Esposito), thinks he’s lost his mind or been knocked semiconscious. They both get out of the car and start doing their detective work in the most mundane of ways. Car crashes keep happening, and their inhabitants play out the consequences of these random acts.

All of the many characters in “Crash” are strongly affected by racism in contemporary Los Angeles. Racism holds them together and pulls them apart. The individual vignettes concerning the characters wouldn’t even intersect if it weren’t for racism.

Like racism itself, “Crash” isn’t a simple or easy movie. It isn’t even easy to follow. In fact, you might want to remember who is driving which car at the beginning of the film. There is nothing uplifting about the topic, but some of the stories about how people deal with racism are.

Don’t go to see “Crash” because Sandra Bullock is in it, because she barely is. The long list of million-dollar actors and actresses also make very short appearances.

But the ensemble cast probably couldn’t be better, and better not said is the story line so you can enjoy your own surprise, but the roles played are real and breathless.

Curly Cohen and Jim Lane contributed to this review.

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