Crash (2004)

dir. Paul Haggis

With contenders like American Beauty, Green Book and CODA, it’s hard to say with absolute certainty what the all-time worst winner of the Oscar for Best Picture is. But there is a very, very strong argument to be made for Crash earning that title. Loosely interconnecting stories bring concepts of bigotry and prejudice to the surface; with the cloying sentimentality, on-the-nose script, and incredibly unsubtle direction, it might as well be called Racism Actually. It’s hard to tell what the fundamental point of Crash is even supposed to be. That we should give sexual abusers and racists a pass if they’re acting as a carer for their infirm parent? That you should completely forgive a man who assaulted you if he, later and separately, saves your life? Parts of the story seem to suggest that anyone is susceptible to becoming a racially-motivated murderer, which isn’t necessarily untrue, but then Crash also seems to conclude that there’s barely any point fighting injustice at all. The only (adult) character in the entire movie who doesn’t come across as selfish, manipulative or hypocritical is the one man who never loses his temper or lashes out, and also conveniently has a cute little daughter to look after. So is the moral of the story that everyone is either perfect all the time, or part of the problem? It seems more likely that sanctimonious, pretentious and shallow productions like Crash are truly part of the problem.

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