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Overall Rating
2.8

Awesome: 22.35%
Worth A Look: 27.06%
Average: 1.18%
Pretty Bad: 7.06%
Total Crap42.35%

6 reviews, 49 user ratings


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Crash (1997)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"One-of-a-kind Cronenberg offering."
5 stars

Most reviewers (even those who admire it) have recoiled from 'Crash,' and that's understandable. Wall-to-wall with frigid sex, this is not the sort of movie you'd take home to meet your mom. Nor is it a dirty, guilty pleasure, unless you share the characters' erotic fixation on collisions, scars, and fractures. Even open-minded viewers prepared to like David Cronenberg's experiment may lose patience with its plot, or lack thereof.

Cronenberg, best known for The Fly and Dead Ringers, has an arctic and antiseptic approach to his art; he likes to dissect and study the human body and psyche. Crash unites the Canadian director's recurring themes of mutating flesh and delusional mind, with a side order of techno-fetishism drawn from J.G. Ballard's obsessive and difficult 1973 novel.

Ballard's story has a pornographic simplicity with unexpected philosophical complexity. The protagonist, called James Ballard (James Spader), engages in jaded sex games with his wife Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger), who, in the first scene, rubs her breast against the cold steel of an airplane during a clinch with her flight instructor. Ballard has his own flings, and the couple swap sex stories in what passes for intimacy.

These, we understand, are numb automatons who push themselves into transgression so as to feel something -- the fleeting illusion of sensation. Cronenberg's camera stares at the sex dispassionately, as if through a microscope; this is not destined to be a Friday-night video for lonely guys. The film's first real sex scene is a collision: Ballard, distracted while driving one rainy night, rams head-on into another car.

The other driver is killed; his wife and passenger, Dr. Helen Remington (Holly Hunter), locks eyes with Ballard through the smashed windshields. Before long, they're having anguished sex in a car in an airport garage. Helen introduces Ballard to the scarred Vaughan (Elias Koteas), who re-enacts celebrity car crashes and insists on the connection between collision and copulation. Vaughan draws Ballard into a philosophy in which crash-induced wounds become a new form of sexual flesh.

J.G. Ballard's idea was to take the eroticized subtext of cars (think of the bikinied blondes posing atop Ferraris, the high-school fumblings in back seats) to a Swiftian extreme. Cronenberg latches onto the visceral aspect while maintaining a cerebral distance. His view, I believe, is that Vaughan and the others with physical and psychic scars have built an elaborate belief system as a defense mechanism. Where we see mangled flesh and splintered bones, they see beauty. They must.

Why make a movie about this? How could anyone enjoy it? Well, I did. I take pleasure in visiting an inner landscape totally alien to me. Crash is a mutant work of art -- a bracing splash of ice water. Numbingly repetitive on first viewing, it demands a second look to uncover the subtle exchanges in those strenuously unsexy sex scenes.

It's a minor masterpiece of a very specialized and ornery kind: It lures us with sex and car crashes, then delivers a muted essay on dehumanization. Or, as Cronenberg once said: "I love to disappoint people."

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=299&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/26/07 15:57:22
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User Comments

1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Drive my car takes on a whole new meaning. 1 stars
7/14/09 blah blah i wish kara unger would speak dirty to me while i fucked her.lovely hairy snatch 4 stars
7/06/08 dan halberg why the hate? decent movie 4 stars
3/01/08 Ivana Mann Probably the riskiest, most audacious movie ever made.Simultaneously repellant & compelling 5 stars
2/23/07 David Pollastrini Porn pretending to be art! 2 stars
10/21/06 Pritchett Fuck all of you! Cronenberg has never made a bad film! 5 stars
9/11/06 Sepi53 awful piece of crap 1 stars
5/09/06 K. Sear Wonderful. My favourite Cronenburg to date. 5 stars
3/10/06 Karri genuine freakfest 1 stars
9/03/05 Le Hembe SteeLe Highly "striking". Cronenberg takes no "backseat". dues ex machina! 4 stars
6/16/05 Naruto Piece of shit. Cronenberg should be executed for such crap 1 stars
1/20/05 Aaron van de sande compulsions (like pornography) are frightneningly detached.what did you expect? 5 stars
10/05/04 Jackie Saw *3* Xs b/f I *got* it. Only time char. are 'involved' is in a crash. Interesting idea. 4 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Well, not a film for everybody, but I loved it 5 stars
7/12/04 L.H Erotically fascinating, however, horrifyingly unrealistic 4 stars
6/08/04 Ryan Clark Cronenberg's worst: it's bizarre and kinky, but unfortunately uninvolving. 2 stars
4/15/04 Ingo Usual Cronenberg, which is always a treat. But not his best. 4 stars
12/26/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. KINKY AS HELL. Great fucking , er I mean performances, from all! 5 stars
7/16/03 Fred Thumbs for the master of car crashes. 5 stars
7/09/03 natasha_theobald disturbing, hypnotic -- not for all tastes, but the cast is uniquely watchable 4 stars
3/20/03 Jack Sommersby Never manages to cross over and involve us in the characters. Cold, impersonal film. 2 stars
12/30/02 Fonq35 If the people involved in this film were burning to death, I wouldn't even piss on 'em 1 stars
10/15/02 Ken WTF? I"d rather eat my own eyeballs than watch that again. 1 stars
10/07/02 Mark Singer Beautiful to watch, and absolutely loathsome. DeSade would be proud. 5 stars
7/27/02 Charles Tatum Softcore porn dressed up with celebrities 2 stars
7/21/02 Zargo my first "sucks all ass" and it sure does deserve it 1 stars
4/03/02 Edfink Lombardo Uninspired sex scenes...The contraversy was more interesting than the film itself 1 stars
9/03/01 The-Dude cronenbergs worst film 1 stars
3/11/01 mad hatter This movie is awful. Nothing but a bad porn with car wrecks. 1 stars
12/08/00 Cristopher Revilla Hey, A Clockwork Orange is 100 times better than this shitbag 1 stars
11/17/00 D.C. Carnahan Good pit action. 5 stars
11/01/00 Damion Cain Worst movie I have ever seen in my life. 1 stars
10/15/00 Kathy Undeemable, empty people who fill their lives with ugliness 1 stars
8/16/00 Terrie Smith A boring film about boring people. Only Cronenberg could get away with making it. 2 stars
1/10/00 Will Other than the titty shots, this is worthless. 1 stars
12/02/99 Matt Thiel If you think this piece of shit is better than Lost World or ID4 you are a fucking idiot. 1 stars
10/05/99 Bozo movie had a real 'feel' to it, and i was drawn in. the book was way better, tho. 4 stars
9/30/99 John Roberson "I find this very fascinating. I'm not sure why." 4 stars
9/16/99 David Olson One of the best of the decade. A Clockwork Orange for the 90's 5 stars
5/08/99 BraveFan One of my least favorite films I have ever seen. Read: waste of film stock. 1 stars
2/03/99 James E. Laczkowski Very audacious and cold. A reflection of our increasing dependence on technology. 4 stars
1/27/99 Bishop Johnson Is Spader not the man? Erie, yet great film! 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Now, that is sex in the '90's for ya!!!! 5 stars
11/26/98 Justin Excellant movie. It's very intriguing. One of the most unique films of the 90's. 5 stars
11/24/98 Annu Bannu Ballard & Cronenburg Great - but I'd Rather watch good Porn Forget this one!! 1 stars
11/17/98 Jules I kinda liked it 4 stars
11/05/98 Bad Kosh Sex and car crashes, now that's totally screwed up. God, I need a drink. 1 stars
10/25/98 Lord Of The Dunce What is it about Canuck movies where they have to involve a kink? 2 stars
8/19/98 {{{OZ}}} A film about people who can only get off when having sex in a car crash. Nothing new. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Mar-1997 (NC-17)

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