Issues of race and gender cause a group of strangers in Los Angeles to physically and
emotionally collide in this drama from director and screenwriter Paul Haggis. Graham
(Don Cheadle) is a police detective whose brother is a street criminal, and it hurts
him to know his mother cares more about his ne'er-do-well brother than him.
Graham's partner is Ria (Jennifer Esposito), who is also his girlfriend, though she has
begun to bristle at his emotional distance, as well as his occasional insensitivity over
the fact he's African-American and she's Hispanic. Rick (Brendan Fraser) is an L.A.
district attorney whose wife, Jean (Sandra Bullock), makes little secret of her fear and
hatred of people unlike herself. Jean's worst imaginings about people of color are
confirmed when her SUV is carjacked by two African-American men -- Anthony (Chris
Bridges, aka Ludacris), who dislikes white people as much as Jean hates blacks, and
Peter (Larenz Tate), who is more open minded. Cameron (Terrence Howard) is a
well-to-do African-American television producer with a beautiful wife, Christine
(Thandie Newton). While coming home from a party, Cameron and Christine are
pulled over by Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon), who subjects them to a humiliating
interrogation (and her to an inappropriate search) while his new partner, Officer
Hansen (Ryan Phillippe), looks on. Daniel (Michael Pena) is a hard-working locksmith
and dedicated father who discovers that his looks don't lead many of his customers
to trust him. And Farhad (Shaun Toub) is a Middle Eastern shopkeeper who is so
constantly threatened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that he decided he needs a gun
to defend his family. Crash was the first directorial project for award-winning
television and film writer Haggis. ~ Mark Deming,
Source: http://www.fandango.com/crash_v301205/summary taken on Aug. 07, 2009
Bigotry as the Outer Side of Inner Angst
By A. O. SCOTT May 6, 2005
What kind of movie is "Crash"? It belongs to a genre that has been flourishing in
recent years - at least in the esteem of critics - but that still lacks a name. A
provisional list of examples might include "Monster's Ball," "House of Sand and Fog"
and "21 Grams." In each of these films, as in "Crash," Americans from radically
different backgrounds are brought together by a grim serendipity that forces them,
or at least the audience, to acknowledge their essential connectedness.
The look of these movies and the rough authenticity of their locations create an
atmosphere of naturalism that is meant to give force to their rigorously pessimistic
view of American life. The performances, often by some of the finest screen actors
working today, have the dense texture and sober discipline that we associate with
realism. But to classify these movies as realistic would be misleading, as the stories
they tell are, in nearly every respect, preposterous, and they tend to be governed less
by the spirit of observation than by superstition.
This is not necessarily bad, and some of these movies are very good indeed. But in
approaching "Crash," we should be more than usually cautious about mistaking its
inhabitants - residents of Los Angeles of various hues, temperaments and
occupations - for actual human beings. This may not be easy, for they are played by
people of such graven, complex individuality as Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle and
Terrence Howard, as well as by less established but equally gifted actors like Michael
Pena and Chris Bridges (better known to the world by his rap name, Ludacris).
Their characters - and the dozen or so others whose lives intersect in the course of an
exceedingly eventful day and a half - may have names, addresses, families and jobs,
but they are, at bottom, ciphers in an allegorical scheme dreamed up by Paul Haggis,
the screenwriter (most recently of Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby"), here
making his directorial debut.
As he demonstrated to galvanizing effect in the "Million Dollar Baby" script, Mr.
Haggis is not unduly concerned with subtlety. At a time when ambitious movies are
dominated by knowing cleverness and showy sensation, he makes a case for blunt,
earnest emotion, and shows an admirable willingness to risk sentimentality and
cliché in the pursuit of genuine feeling. Many of the scenes in "Crash" unfold with
great dramatic power, even when they lack a credible narrative or psychological
Mr. Haggis's evident sincerity and intelligence are reflected in the conviction of the
cast, and may also leave an impression on the audience. So much feeling, so much
skill, so much seriousness, such an urgent moral agenda - all of this must surely
answer our collective hunger for a good movie, or even a great one, about race and
class in a modern American city.
Not even close. "Crash" writes its themes in capital letters - Race, Class, Life, Fate -
and then makes them the subjects of a series of speeches and the pivot points for a
succession of clumsy reversals. The first speech, which doubles as introductory
voice-over narration, is by Mr. Cheadle's character, a detective named Graham,
addressing his partner (and lover), Ria (Jennifer Esposito), after their car has been in
a minor accident. He takes the event as a metaphor for the disjunctive, isolated
character of life in Los Angeles, while she insists that it is merely a literal, physical
occurrence that requires a practical response.
It does not take long to figure out whose side Mr. Haggis is on. Metaphor hangs in
the California air like smog (or like the snow that is incongruously falling on the
Hollywood Hills). The other major element in the atmosphere is intolerance. Ria, who
is Hispanic, climbs out of the car and confronts the other driver, an Asian-American
woman, and before long their argument has descended into racial name-calling. This
sets the pattern for just about every other conversation in the movie.
In the next scene, which takes place earlier on the previous day, a hot-tempered
Iranian shopkeeper is insulted by the owner of a gun store, who calls him "Osama."
And so it goes, slur by slur, until we come full circle, to the original accident, after
which a few lingering questions are resolved.
In the meantime, quite a lot happens. Guns are pulled, cars are stolen, children are
endangered, cars flip over, and many angry, hurtful words are exchanged, all of it
threaded together by Mr. Haggis's quick, emphatic direction and Mark Isham's
maundering electronic score.
Mr. Haggis is eager to show the complexities of his many characters, which means
that each one will show exactly two sides. A racist white police officer will turn out to
be physically courageous and devoted to his ailing father; his sensitive white partner
will engage in some deadly racial profiling; a young black man who sees racial
profiling everywhere will turn out to be a carjacker; a wealthy, mild-mannered black
man will pull out a gun and start screaming. No one is innocent. There's good and
bad in everyone. (The exception is Mr. Pena's character, a Mexican-American
locksmith who is an island of quiet decency in a sea of howling prejudice and
That these bromides count as insights may say more about the state of the American
civic conversation than about Mr. Haggis's limitations as a storyteller, and there is no
doubt that he is trying to dig into the unhappiness and antagonism that often simmer
below the placid surface of everyday life. "I'm angry all the time, and I don't know
why," says Jean (Sandra Bullock), the wife of the city's district attorney (Brendan
Fraser), the day after their S.U.V. has been stolen at gunpoint.
Her condition is all but universal in Mr. Haggis's city, but its avenues of expression are
overwrought and implausible. The idea that bigotry is the public face of private
unhappiness - the notion that we lash out at people we don't know as a form of
displaced revenge against the more familiar sources of our misery - is an interesting
one, but the failure of "Crash" is that it states its ideas, again and again, without
realizing them in coherent dramatic form.
It is at once tangled and threadbare; at times you have trouble keeping track of all
the characters, but they run into one another with such frequency that, by the end,
you start to think that the population of Los Angeles County must number in the
mid-two figures - all of it strangers who hate one another on sight.
So what kind of a movie is "Crash"? A frustrating movie: full of heart and devoid of
life; crudely manipulative when it tries hardest to be subtle; and profoundly
complacent in spite of its intention to unsettle and disturb.
t&position= taken on Aug. 07, 2009
Memorable quotes for Crash
Graham: It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past
people, people bump into you. In L.A., 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 can feel something.
Shereen: They think we're Arab. When did Persian become Arab?
Lara: [referring to the impenetrable cloak] He doesn't have it!
Elizabeth: [confused] He doesn't have what?
Rick: Fuck! Why do these guys have to be black? I mean, why? No matter how we
spin this thing, I'm either gonna lose the black vote or I'm gonna lose the law and
Karen: You know, I think you're worrying too much. You have a lot of support in the
Rick: All right. If we can't duck this thing, we're gonna have to neutralize it. What we
need is a picture of me pinning a medal on a black man. Bruce? The firefighter - the
one that saved the camp or something - Northridge... what's his name?
Bruce: He's Iraqi.
Rick: He's Iraqi? Well, he looks black.
Bruce: He's dark-skinned, sir, but he's Iraqi, his name's Saddam Hassif.
Rick: Saddam? His name's Saddam? Oh, that's real good, Bruce. Yeah, I'm gonna pin a
medal on an Iraqi named Saddam. Give yourself a raise, will you?
Anthony: You wanna get killed, nigger?
Cameron: [punches him] Say that again, man. Call me nigger again.
Anthony: You stupid motherfucker.
Anthony: Come on now! This is America. Time is money.
Anthony: Listen to it man. Nigga this, Nigga that. You think white go around callin'
each other "honky" all day, man? "Hey, honky, how's business?" "Going great, cracker,
Cameron: [after Christine's been molested] Who are you calling?
Christine: I'm gonna report their asses, sons of bitches.
Shaniqua: [talking on the phone] Mr. Ryan, your father has been to the clinic three
times in the last month. He's been treated for a urinary tract infection that is by no
means an emergency. Now, if you have any more questions about your HMO plan,
why don't you make an appointment to come in between ten and four, Monday
Officer Ryan: What does my father do about sleeping tonight?
Shaniqua: I don't know. I'm not a Doctor.
Officer Ryan: I wanna talk to your supervisor...
Shaniqua: I am my supervisor!
Officer Ryan: Yeah, what's your name?
Shaniqua: Shaniqua Johnson.
Officer Ryan: Shaniqua. Big fucking surprise that is!
[Shaniqua hangs up]
Graham: Well, fuck you very much. But thanks for thinking of me.
Jean: I want the locks changed again in the morning.
Rick: You what? Look, why don't you just go lie down, huh? Have you checked on
Jean: Well of course I've checked on James. I've checked on him every five minutes
since we've been home. Do not patronize me. I want the locks changed again in the
Rick: Shhh. It's ok. Just go to bed, all right?
Jean: [interrupting] You know what, didn't I just tell you not to treat me like a child?
Maria: I'm sorry Mrs. Jean. It's okay?... I go home now?
Rick: It's fine. Thank you very much for staying Maria.
Maria: You're welcome. No problem. Goodnight Mrs. Jean.
Jean: [Rudely] Goodnight.
Rick: [to Maria] We'll see you tomorrow.
Jean: I would like the locks changed again in the morning. And you know what, you
might mention that next time we'd appreciate it if they didn't send a gang member...
Rick: A gang member?
Jean: Yes, yes.
Rick: What do you mean? That kid in there?
Jean: Yes. The guy in there with the shaved head, the pants around his ass, the prison
Rick: Those are not prison tattoos.
Jean: [Interrupting] Oh really? And he's not gonna go sell our key to one of his gang
banger friends the moment he is out our door?
Rick: You've had a really tough night. I think it would be best if you just went upstairs
right now and...
Jean: [Interrupting] And what? Wait for them to break in?
Jean: [Yelling] I just had a gun pointed in my face!
Rick: [Agitated] You lower you voice!
Jean: [Yelling] ... and it was my fault because I knew it was gonna happen. But if a
white person sees two black men walking towards her and she turns and walks in the
other direction, she's a racist, right?
Jean: Well I got scared and I didn't say anything and ten seconds later I had a
[Jabbing her finger into Rick's chest]
Jean: gun in my face. Now I am telling you, your amigo in there is gonna sell our key
to one of his homies and this time it'd be really fucking great if you acted like you
actually gave a shit!
Graham: [on the phone] Mom, I can't talk to you right now, okay? I'm having sex with
a white woman.
[hangs up, and Ria gets out of bed]
Graham: OK, where were we?
Ria: I was white, and you were about to jerk off in the shower.
Graham: Oh, shit. Come on. I would have said you were Mexican, but I don't think it
would have pissed her off as much.
Ria: Why do you keep everybody a certain distance, huh? What, you start to feel
something and panic?
Graham: Come on, Maria. You're just pissed 'cause I answered the phone.
Ria: That's just where I begin to get pissed. I mean, really, what kind of man speaks to
his mother that way, huh?
Graham: Oh, this is about my mother. What do you know about my mother?
Ria: If I was your father, I'd kick your fucking ass.
Graham: OK, I was raised badly. Why don't you take your clothes off, get back into
bed, and teach me a lesson?
Ria: You want a lesson? I'll give you a lesson. How 'bout a geography lesson? My
father's from Puerto Rico. My mother's from El Salvador. Neither one of those is
Graham: Ah. Well then I guess the big mystery is, who gathered all those remarkably
different cultures together and taught them all how to park their cars on their lawns?
Jean: Do you want to hear something funny?
Maria: What's that Mrs. Jean?
Jean: You're the best friend I've got.
Jean: I am angry all the time... and I don't know why.
Christine: I just couldn't stand to see that man take away your dignity.
Cameron: [to Anthony] Look at me. You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself.
Anthony: No, no, no, take that voodoo-ass thing off of there right now!
Peter: I know you just didn't call St. Christopher voodoo. Man's the patron saint of
Anthony: You had a conversation with God, huh? What did God say? Go forth, my son,
and leave big slobbery suction rings on every dashboard you find? Why the hell do
you do that?
Peter: Look at the way your crazy ass drive, then ask me that again!
Officer Hanson: I'm trying to help you.
Cameron: I didn't ask for your help, did I?
Anthony: You see any white people in there waiting an hour and thirty two minutes
for a plate of spaghetti? Huh? And how many cups of coffee did we get?
Peter: You don't drink coffee and I didn't want any.
Anthony: That woman poured cup after cup to every single white person around us.
Did she even ask you if you wanted any?
Peter: We didn't get any coffee that you didn't want and I didn't order, and this is
evidence of racial discrimination? Did you happen to notice our waitress was black?
Anthony: And black women don't think in stereo types? You tell me something man.
When was the lat time you met one who didn't think she knew everything about
your lazy ass? Before you even open your mouth, huh?
Officer Ryan: You think you know who you are?
[Officer Hanson nods]
Officer Ryan: You have no idea.
Anthony: Look around! You couldn't find a whiter, safer or better lit part of this city.
But this white woman sees two black guys, who look like UCLA students, strolling
down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear. I mean, look at us! Are we dressed
like gang-bangers? Huh? No. Do we look threatening? No. Fact, if anybody should be
scared around here, it's us: We're the only two black faces surrounded by a sea of
over-caffeinated white people, patrolled by the triggerhappy LAPD. So you tell me,
why aren't we scared?
Peter: Because we have guns?
Anthony: You could be right.
Anthony: You could fill the Staple Center with what you don't know.
Peter: The Kings are playing tonight.
Anthony: You don't like hockey! Only reason you say you do is to piss me off!
Peter: ...I love hockey.
Lara: I'll protect you, Daddy.
Officer Hanson: Something else funny?
Peter: [laughing] People, man... people.
Lara: How far can bullets go?
Daniel: They go pretty far but they usually get stuck in something and stop.
Lara: What if they don't?
Daniel: Are you thinking about that bullet that came through your window?
Daniel: She had these little stubby wings, like she could've glued them on, you know,
like I'm gonna believe she's a fairy. So she said, "I'll prove it." So she reaches into her
backpack and she pulls out this invisible cloak and she ties it around my neck. And
she tells me that it's impenetrable. You know what impenetrable means? It means
nothing can go through it. No bullets, nothing. She told me that if I wore it, nothing
would hurt me. So I did. And my whole life, I never got shot, stabbed, nothing. I mean,
how weird is that?
Lara: I heard a bang.
Daniel: What, like a truck bang?
Lara: Like a gun.
Shaniqua: Ahh! Oh, my God. What the hell is wrong with you people? Uh-uh! Don't
talk to me unless you speak American!
Anthony: That waitress sized us up in two seconds. We're black and black people
don't tip. So she wasn't gonna waste her time. Now somebody like that? Nothing you
can do to change their mind.
Peter: So, uh... how much did you leave?
Anthony: You expect me to pay for that kind of service?
Lara: It's a really good cloak.
Lucien: You watch the Discovery Channel?
Anthony: Not a lot.
Peter: They got some good shit on that channel.
Lucien: Every night there is a show with somebody shining a little blue light and
finding tiny specks of blood splattered on carpets and walls and ceiling fans,
bathroom fixtures and special-edition plastic Burger King tray cups. The next thing
they show is some stupid redneck in handcuffs who looks absolutely stunned that
this is happening to him. Sometimes the redneck is actually WATCHING the Discovery
Channel when they break in to arrest him. And he still can't figure out how on earth
they could've caught him!
Lucien: Psst. Do I look like I wanna be on the Discovery Channel?
Lucien: Then get the fuck outta my shop.
Graham: I swear to you, Mom. I'll find whoever killed him.
Graham's Mother: Oh, I already know who killed him. You did. I asked you to find
your brother, but you were too busy for us. We weren't much good to you anymore,
were we? You got things to do. You go ahead. I'll sign the papers.
Cameron: I mean, sooner or later, you gotta find out what it's really like to be black.
Christine: Oh, fuck you man! Like you'd know! The closest you ever came to being
black, Cameron, was watching "The Cosby Show".
Cameron: Yeah, well, at least I wasn't watching it with the rest of the equestrian
Anthony: [as he let go all the Asian people that are in the truck] Look, here's 40 bucks.
Buy everybody chop suey. You understand?
[an Asian man takes the money and doesn't say anything as he leaves]
Anthony: Dopey fucking Chinaman.
Farhad: I am not yelling! I am upset!
Ria: Graham, I think we got rear ended. I think we spun around twice, and
somewhere in there, one of us lost our frame of reference. And I'm going to look for
Motorcycle Cop: Calm down, ma'am.
Kim Lee: I am calm.
Motorcycle Cop: I need to see your registration and insurance.
Kim Lee: Why? Not my fault! It's her fault! She do this!
Ria: [approaching] My fault?
Motorcycle Cop: Ma'am, you really need to wait in your vehicle.
Ria: [appraoching] My fault?
Kim Lee: Stop in the middle of street! Mexicans! No know how to drive! She blake
Ria: I "blake" too fast? I "blake" too fast? I'm sorry, you no see my "blake lights"?
Motorcycle Cop: [to Ria] Ma'am...
Ria: [to Kim Lee] See, I stop when I see long line of cars stop in front of me. Maybe
you see over steering wheel, you "blake" too.
Motorcycle Cop: [to Ria] Ma'am...
Ria: Officer, can you please write down in your report how shocked I am to be hit by
an Asian driver?
Cop At Scene: Hey, Detective. Nice entrance.
Graham: Fuck you.
[to Detective Carr]
Detective Carr: You okay?
Graham: I'm freezing.
Detective Carr: Shit. I heard it might snow.
Graham: Get outta here.
Detective Carr: That's what I heard.
Graham: You got a smoke?
Detective Carr: Nah, quit.
Graham: Yeah, me, too. What have you got?
Detective Carr: Dead kid.
Dirk: Andy, get him out of here now!
Dorri: [to Farhad] Go, wait in the car.
Farhad: [to Dirk] You are ignorant man!
Dirk: I'm ignorant. You're liberating my country, and I'm flying seven four sevens into
your mud huts and incinerating my friends. Get the fuck out of my store!
Peter: Get the fuck out of the car!
Anthony: Give me the keys!
Graham: That is a nice gun.
Ria: Well, the car is registered to a Cindy Bradley. And that's not Cindy. That is a
[hands him a wallet]
Ria: Found under the front seat. Hollywood Division.
Graham: Looks like Detective Conklin shot himself the wrong nigga.
Jean: How much longer are you going to be?
Daniel: Not. This is the last one.
Jean: Thank you.
Christine: [to Cameron] Fuck you, Cameron!
Christine: And you, keep your filthy fuckin' hands off me! Ow! You fucking pig!
Cameron: Christine, just stop taking.
Officer Ryan: [to Christine] That's quite a mouth you have.
Officer Ryan: Course, you know that.
Christine: Fuck you! That's what this is all about, isn't it? You thought you saw a white
woman blowing a black man, and that just drove your little cracker ass crazy!
Cameron: Christine, shut your fuckin' mouth!
Officer Ryan: I'd listen to your husband, Ma'am. Put your legs open. Now, do you
have any guns or knives or anything I might get stuck with?
Cameron: What did you want me to do? Get us both shot?
Christine: No, what I need is a husband who will not just stand there, while I'm being
Christine: That's good. A little anger. It's a bit late, but it's nice to see.
Officer Hanson: Hey. Maybe they didn't tell you, but I've been reassigned.
Officer Ryan: Yeah, they told me. I just wanted to say good luck and it was good riding
Officer Hanson: You too.
Officer Ryan: Wait 'till you've been on the job a few more years. Look at me.
Officer Hanson: Yeah.
Officer Ryan: Look at me. Wait 'till you've been doing it a little longer.
Officer Hanson: Radio cheque two one L two three.
Officer #1: Two one L two three. I'm hearing strange noises from your car.
Officer #2: Likewise, twenty one, L. Is your mic open by any chance?
Flanagan: Fucking black people, huh?
Graham: What did you just say?
Flanagan: I mean, I know all the sociological reasons why, per capita eight times more
black men are incarcerated than white men... Schools are a disgrace, lack of
opportunity, bias in the judicial system, all that stuff... But still... but still, it's... it's
gotta get to you, I mean, on a gut level, as a black man. They just can't keep their
hands out of the cookie jar.
Flanagan: Actually, we were thinking of you until we saw that. It's your brothers file.
Twenty something years old and already three felonys. Three Strikes Law, the kid's
going away for life for stealing a car. Christ, that's a shitty law. There's a warrant in
there. But still, he had every opportunity you had. Fucking black people, huh?
Graham: So, uh... all I need to do to make this disappear is to frame a potentially
Flanagan: What are you? The fucking Defender of All Things White? We're talking
about a white that shot three black men and you're arguing with me, that maybe
we're not being "fair" to him? You know, what? Maybe you're right. Maybe you're
right. Maybe Lewis did provoke this. Maybe he got exactly what was coming to him.
Or, maybe, stoned or not, being a black man in the valley was enough to get him
killed. There was no one there to see who shot first, so there is no way way to know.
Which means, we could get this wrong. Maybe that's what happened with your
brother. Maybe we got it wrong. Maybe Lewis isn't the only one who deserves the
benefit of the doubt. You're the one closest to all this. You need to tell us. What does
your gut tell you?
Flanagan: The D.A's squad loses its lead investigator next month. Rick is quite
adamant that his replacement be a person of color. It's a high profile position, and he
wants to send the right message to the community.
Graham: And the right message is look at this Black Boy I bought?
Officer Ryan: You folks drive safe now.
Graham's Mother: Did you find your brother?
Graham: No, Ma.
Graham's Mother: Tell him to come home. Tell him I'm not mad, okay? Okay, baby?
Daniel: Honey, stay inside!
Officer Ryan: Put your hands on top of your head, Ma'am.
Cameron: Now, you just do what he says.
Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375679/quotes taken on Aug. 07, 2009