It’s indeed the sense of touch that acts like a cable of emotional transmittance between human beings. The movie starts with a statement describing the loss of this interaction; “In LA, nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much that we crash into each other just so we feel something.” Crash is a reflection of the life of prejudice and racism that we think we’ve overcome centuries ago, only for it to creep back into our lives in different appearances.
The first incident of the movie addresses the issue of racist stereotypes that lead to people conducting felonies out of despair, as they are judged regardless of merit. The director engages the audience and leads them to the main theme by creating small incidents of prejudice that occur in dispersed contexts and come together to form a vicious circle. It’s the circle of doubt; one that is created by the nature of our modern era that reiterates the sense of isolation between inhabitants of the same city, fostered by standards of living that freeze any natural feelings of empathy built in our systems.
Here we see how each actor is a victim at one moment and an abuser at another, taking revenge from the wrong person and adding fuel to the engine of racism. Historically, it was an issue of victimization of Africans, Latins and Arabs in the white society that now became a much more complex matter. As we see towards the end, this problem of racism now involves minorities stereotyping themselves and fighting their own people in order to disprove widespread accusations that are chasing them.
If we fast-forward those incidents, we come to realize that it is not about those few people with an attitude, but an entire system that is well-founded in big cities, their security departments, hospitals, leisure facilities and so on… The question remains; how do we escape? Or do we ever? If we are each on our autopilot mode that dictates our reactions that we are seldom aware of, or are busy fighting our own struggle of creating a life that at some point we cannot find a definition for, where is the crack in this loop? The director answers this question beautifully by adding a sense of hope that arises from a unique definition for miracles. I once heard a saying around the lines “If you forget where you plant your seeds, rain will guide you to them one day.” When Det. Graham buys his mother groceries without her knowing or when Dorri deals with the father’s gun, a good seed is planted.
Miracles exist, not as supernatural causes, but as those good deeds and small gestures that we do for others and leave unspoken. Finally, it sometimes takes a crash for people to have the courage to break this circle and we soon see the benefit unfold like a domino effect.
Director: Paul Haggis
Stars: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton
Winner of 3 Oscar Awards