'Crash': Glorified student film?

From: Gary G. DeAtley, Danville, CA

I truly am puzzled by your praise for "Crash" though I have no doubt that it is sincere and well-reasoned. Although I am a life-long movie fan, I admit that "Crash" went totally under my radar during its theatrical release. My son, a USC alumnus, came to visit one weekend and he brought a copy of "Crash." About forty minutes in, I turned to him and said something like "How in the world did one of your film student friends get all of these major Hollywood types to be in his film?" (I know, I know, that must come across as so very goofy on my part but that is what happened.) "Dad", he said, "this is Paul Haggis, he wrote it , directed it and, I think, produced it". I was literally dumfounded.

My initial remark stemmed from my reaction to the manner in which the film was treating the subject matter. It seemed so over the top "sincere" in an immature, sophomoric way. I watched the rest of film and simply did not know what to think. A joke? Satire? Why did Mr. Haggis feel it was necessary to grab me by the shoulders and scream for ninety or so minutes: "Racism! My God! It's all so COMPLEX!!!"; and "LOOK!, LOOK!, THE IRONY!" The entire experience was akin to reading an email typed in all caps.

As far as "Brokeback Mountain" is concerned, all explanations for its loss are going to be anecdotal. Certainly, homophobia played some role with certain Academy voters. More than likely,however, it comes down to the fact that "Crash" was made by a large group of very popular people and friends voted for their friends.

"Brokeback" was marketed as a "gay love story" (which to some sounded sort of pornographic) rather than a film concerning the universal tragedy of intolerance. The artistry employed to tell the story was subtle, beautiful, totally cinematic and ultimately exquisite. I think it will stand the test of time. I do not think "Crash" will. Just hope we are both around to see!

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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