The film is set in and around various areas of Los Angeles and takes place over approximately 36 hours.
There is no main character in this movie but there are several characters that have roles important to the storyline. They are:
Graham Walters (Don Cheadle) an African American police detective and his Latino partner Ria (Jennifer Esposito), an Iranian shop owner Farhad (Shaun Toube) and his daughter Dorri, Peter Waters (Larenze Tate) and Anthony (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) two young African American carjackers, Caucasian district attorney Rick Cabot (Brandan Fraser) and his wife Jean (Sandra Bullock), Daniel (Michael Pena) an Hispanic locksmith and his daughter Lara (Ashlyn Sanchez), Caucasian police officers John Ryan (Matt Dillon) and Tom Hansen (Ryan Phillippe), African American movie director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton). There are several other characters in this film who although would not be considered main characters have an important part to plan in the movie coming together as a whole.
Crash is made up of several small stories coming together to make one complete film. In the beginning of Crash we see little bright dots on the screen which slowly come together until we understand that they are the headlights of cars on the road at night. This metaphor is striking. The characters in the film move around each other on a cold winter’s day in Los Angeles only to eventually collide with each other in various ways. The movie shows several fateful meetings between people from different ethnic groups and how they interact with each other according to preconceived ideas of racial stereotypes. Over the course of the film the vast majority of these stereotypes are shown to be incorrect or, at the very least, more complicated than they might seem. By the end of the movie our main characters are, either by fate or coincidence all changed or forced to question themselves and the way they assume others will behave according to their race.
The theme of the movie is that people’s prejudices can cause them to make incorrect assumptions about others, especially others of different races, sometimes with far reaching or even devastating consequences.
The majority of the film is shot in a fairly tight frame concentrating on the characters themselves and how they interact. However at several times during the movie a long shot is used showing an overview. This is possibly to symbolize how the individual character’s behaviour affects the world around them. It is also worth noting that the film begins with a long zoom shot from above the city as we are taken into the story and ends with a long reverse zoom as the story reaches its conclusion bringing us back out again.
The music used throughout the film is stereotypically associated with several of the racial groups featured in the movie. The majority of the time the music used to set the scene is very subtle and unobtrusive. Often soft, melodic music is used during the action sequences in contrast to the harshness of what is happening on screen, this also allows the viewer to become more involved and draws us into the scene in a more emotional way.
The lighting in the film is used to show the contrast between the positive and negative scenes. It seems that during the scenes in which the story is heading in a positive direction or if a character is behaving in a positive way it is daytime or brightly lit and that the reverse is true during the negative scenes.
On the whole I enjoyed the film. It has a complex, intelligent plot with many interesting characters. The film did a good job of pointing out the differences between people, and that everybody has prejudices when it comes to people that are different from themselves. I think it shines a light on a problem in Western society as we become more multicultural and it has some very important themes: racism, prejudice and fear of what you don't know. And I feel that the film showed very well how people often incorrectly judge others before they get to know them.
I also liked that the film was called Crash, this does not just refer to the physical car crash, but also to the crashes between the different people. They crash when they meet because they all have their own ideas of how people are based on racist opinions, and beliefs that your own race is the best. Therefore it is also a psychological crash, and most of these people change their point of view after meeting each other.
I feel that the film has an important message for us all, to not be too quick to judge others or make assumptions about people just because they are different from ourselves as these assumptions can only too often be very wrong.