2005, US, directed by Paul Haggis
The title of this film is unusually apt: every encounter in seems to have a self-conscious rawness and a violence that mirrors the jarring effects of the various auto incidents that punctuate the action. Writer-director Haggis uses his large cast to explore race relations in contemporary Los Angeles, and the results aren't pretty. At its heart, the film argues that there's a little of the racist in all of us - black, white, Chinese, Iranian, Hispanic - and tries to upset expectations with interweaving storylines that bring the different races together in varying combinations. The stories are uneven and sometimes less than convincing, with Haggis's wordy script coming across as rather stilted, while the overall impression is of something very contrived. It's hard, too, to know whether, in voicing some thoughts usually kept well-concealed, the film really says a whole lot that's new about the problem of race in the US; Haggis certainly seems to think so, but that's not quite the same thing. The film's real resource is its exceptional cast, ranging from the ever-reliable Don Cheadle to Ludacris to Matt Dillon (excellent), Terrence Howard and Sandra Bullock, playing an especially obnoxious Angelena.