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1997 - NC-17 - 98 Mins.
Director: David Cronenberg
Producer: Andras Hamori, Chris Auty, Stephanie Reichel, Marilyn Stonehouse, Jeremy Thomas, Robert Lantos
Written By: David Cronenberg
Starring: James Spader, Deborah Kara Unger, Elias Koteas, Holly Hunter, Roseanna Arquette
Review by: Jennie Kermode

Exploring our fascination with wreckage
After all the hype over attempts to ban this film in Britain, it ended up with a far wider mainstream audience than would otherwise have been expected for what is essentially an intellectual art movie of necessarily limited appeal. This is a film from which considerable numbers of people have walked out of cinemas in disgust. Depending on who you talk to, it is frequently reckoned as either the most brilliant or most pathetic thing to hit our screens in years. In fact, it is neither.

The main problem with Crash, and a problem which has been exacerbated by all the fuss about sex, violence and car crashes, is that it is a slow-paced, sometimes deliberately remote piece of art which will leave many viewers cold. This problem is hardly a surprising one, given Cronenburg's frequently clinical directorial style (there are conscious echos of Dead Ringers in the hospital scenes), and author J. G. Ballard's postmodernist, psychopathological conceptual work. Everything about this film has been precisely put together to create a machine as efficient as those with which it concerns itself, and ultimately as fallible. However, those prepared to sit through the less accessible first half of the film, as tension builds and characters are slowly, cleverly manoevered into blackly comic, tragic roles, will find their reward in the powerful second half wherein events build to extreme and unexpectedly moving conclusions.

Crash tells the story of film director James Ballard (Spader) and his wife Catherine (Unger), whose lonely marriage is sparked with new life when he is involved in a car crash and they both find themselves caught up in a world where such crashes are used as a focus for erotic arousal. This theme is actually an old one, and the viewer need not initially share the characters' fetish (or indeed have any interest in cars at all) to find hirself drawn to their reflections on death as a fertilising experience. The tale is shot through with desperation as various crash victims, isolated by their trauma from the rest of the world (which pays scarcely any attention to their behaviour), attempt to reinvent love and meaning in their shattered lives.

This is certainly not a film for the masses, and I would not recommend it to those seeking simply entertainment; but if you want to see something that will really make you think, that will enable you to look at the world in a different way, then give Crash a try. There's an awful lot more traffic out there than there used to be.
Movie Guru Rating
A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic.
  5 out of 5 stars

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