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Oscar Preview:Crash

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By Johnathan Kroncke

Thandie Newton and Matt Dillon star in “Crash” (AMPAS)

By Johnathan Kroncke

Racism is the ugliest word in the English language. “Crash,” however, turns this hateful frame of mind into a work of art.

“Crash” follows the intertwining lives and careers of several different Los Angeles residents and how their experiences with racism either bring them together or tear them apart.

Don Cheadle stars as Graham, a detective who must find himself in between the madness of his personal life and the racial prejudice he faces in his profession. At the same time he must find his delinquent little brother in order to clear his name before he ends up dead or in jail.

Graham’s younger brother Peter, played by Larenz Tate, is forced to listen to his friend Anthony, played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, complain non-stop about the stereotype that all blacks are criminals. All the while, two are carjacking people at gun-point.

Of course, they just so happen to stick a gun in the face of Rick, the district attorney of Los Angeles, played by Brendan Fraser, and his wife Jeane, played by Sandra Bullock. Jeane is so shaken up by the event that she regresses into a racist mindset, believing their young Hispanic locksmith is conspiring to rob their home based on his appearance.

Daniel, the locksmith, played by Michael Pena, wants nothing more than to provide a good and safe life for his wife and little daughter. Unfortunately, his skin color comes into conflict with that dream as the Middle Eastern owner of a shop where Daniel fixed a lock believes that he broke in and destroyed everything.

Farhad, the shop owner, played by Shaun Toub, is the victim of unending racism as well. So much so that he purchases a gun from an extremely prejudiced American to protect his little shop from further racially driven attacks.

Naturally, the Los Angeles police department gets into the mix and is shown harassing people, this time a rich black couple. Christine, played by Thandie Newton, becomes enraged with her husband Cameron, played by Terrence Howard, for not doing more to stop the police from molesting her. Cameron goes through struggles of his own in his predominately white workplace

The only drawback to “Crash” is that, while each character experiences racism in one form or another, they all seem to harbor their own prejudices and are not shy about voicing them, making it slightly unbelievable. Graham’s partner, a young Hispanic woman, is rear-ended by an older Asian woman. Instead of simply resolving the problem and moving on, the two fire one racial stereotype after another at each other which only serves to make them more upset.

However, minor setbacks aside, “Crash” is an incredibly powerful film. The strong performances from both Terrence Howard and Michael Pena make for some the most emotional scenes and transform the film from good to great.

Paul Haggis writes and directs arguably the most powerful film of the year and is more than deserving of an Academy Award for his work. When audiences see this film, they take with them a sense of what others feel in their daily lives. Haggis allows people to step outside of their own little world and see what someone else’s is like. Everyone, without exception, should see this film.

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