If you don't know the name Paul Haggis quite yet, you better learn it and fast.
Haggis could be the next big thing that moviegoers and film buffs have been yearning for.
Haggis has been a creative force behind some of television's more critically-acclaimed and ground-breaking shows, from The Love Boat to thirtysomething. Haggis is probably best known for creating the moderately successful crossing-borders cop show, Due South. But it wasn't until the 1996 series EZ Streets that Haggis began to flex his directing muscles and show an audience what he was capable of. The series only lasted 9 episodes, but for those who saw it, they still remember the name Paul Haggis.
Just last year, Paul Haggis garnered his first Academy Award nomination for his screenplay to Million Dollar Baby, but lost. Some say he was robbed.
Crash marks the first time for Haggis to direct and write a major motion picture. The film covers multiple angles in the day-in-the-life of some major players in Los Angeles. Each of the main players are influenced and have to deal with racism in our world. All the intertwining plots and multiple characters are very reminiscent of the kinds of films legendary filmmaker Robert Altman used to make. The film stars Don Cheadle as an L.A. detective, Matt Dillon as a racist cop, and Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock as the district attorney and his wife. The film also stars Thandie Newton, Larenz Tate, Ryan Philippe, Jennifer Esposito, Ludacris, and Keith David.
Crash is hands down the best ensemble drama since Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia in 1999. The intricate plot, the evolution of characters, the all-encompassing tension, and the film's perfect placement of music make this film a film buff's dream come true. You have to see it to believe it.
Aside from the film's amazing construction are the amazing lead performances from Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, and Thandie Newton. Then there are also incredible performances from supporting players like Larenz Tate and Ryan Philippe. But what was probably the most amazing about the supporting cast were the performances by Shaun Toub and Bahar Soomekh, who play Persian immigrants who watch their family store unravel as racial tension escalates. I was so blown away by their honest and forthcoming father-and-daughter character performances.
What I also loved about this film was how it challenges the audience to follow the storyline, even if it's probably not something you want to talk about. Racism is a touchy subject, but Haggis handles the topic with intelligence, careful planning, and brilliant execution. It is so easy to see how this film could have been a disaster, but that is also part of its brilliance. In today's world, we need a film like this to speak to people and help us to better understand our cultural diversity.
Crash is the best film I have seen this year, thus far. (5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.