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Crash Movie Review

james cronenberg david unger

No question about it, Crash is one strange flick. Only in the movies do we ever see couples with the same sexual intentions glance at each other for less than ONE second and find themselves in lustful embrace the very NEXT microsecond. In Crash, no one asks anyone, “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?” or “Why don't we do it in the City Dump?” Everyone just KNOWS. It's a mystery, originally spun by J. G. Ballard in his 1973 novel. James Spader, who's played the full spectrum of sexual nuts onscreen, is married to Catherine (Deborah Unger). He gets in an accident with Helen (Holly Hunter) and her husband. The husband dies, James and Helen are injured, and both are soon “exploring their sexuality” at re-enactments of James Dean's and Jayne Mansfield's fatal crashes, at a greatest-hits video screening of car crashes, and best of all, in actual cars where actual people have died. My late friend Alvah might have said that a flick like Crash is symbolic of a disintegrating society. Well, we all bring our own baggage to a movie like this, so I asked my friend Raymond, “How and why are they getting off on all this stuff? Are they really as happy as they look?” Raymond said that they were experiencing pleasure, but not fulfillment, which is rather a difficult concept for a former convent school girl to unravel. Crash does take us into its own world in a way that David Lynch's Lost Highway (because of the intermittent boredom factor) does not. Unger (who appeared in 1993's Hotel Room along with Mariska Hargitay, a survivor of the Mansfield crash) has an intriguing aura and Rosanna Arquette, complete with leg brace, really looks as if she was BORN to be in Crash. This is the sort of movie that works for its NC-17 rating. No one but Cronenberg would touch a project like Crash; fortunately, he did. Crash may be weird, twisted, and sick, but it's always dispassionate, thoughtful, and riveting.

1995 (NC-17) 98m/C CA James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger, Rosanna Arquette, Peter MacNeill; D: David Cronenberg; W: David Cronenberg; C: Peter Suschitzsky; M: Howard Shore. Cannes Film Festival ‘96: Special Jury Prize; Genie Awards ‘96: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Director (Cronenberg), Best Film Editing; Nominations: Genie Awards ‘96: Best Film, Best Sound. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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