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It's so easy to hate a movie like "Crash" that it almost seems like a cliche if you end up doing so. Set in a misty Canadian city that looks a lot like a dark, apacolyptic Toronto, it's a twisted story of a man (James Spader), who sustains a car wreck and ends up peculiarly turned on by the whole event. He hooks up with the woman whose car he hit (Holly Hunter) who in turn leads him down a path of skewed sexuality, led by a charismatic figure named Vaughan (Elias Koteas). Throw Rosanna Arquette and an intensely sexy Deborah Kara Unger into the mix, and you've got the most perverse bouilliabaise of characters since David Lynch's "Lost Highway" (strangely enough, the last movie to play at the Carolina in Chapel Hill).

The underlying theory of it all, as near as I can tell, is that modern technology has moved us so far from the organic to the synthetic that we can no longer receive pleasure by natural means. The jagged steel edges of a car wreck are the only things piercing enough to our mentalility to register anything sexual in lives deadened by the overwhelming technophilia of the millenium. The film's best two scenes—a violent backseat grope during a car wash and James Spader's sex with a misshapen, Robo Cop-like Rosanna Arquette—are the two times when David Cronenberg truly makes stainless steel sexy without freaking us all out.

After an hour or so, though, the whole thing starts to ring false; it's someone else's dream, someone else's fantasy. By the end, it feels as though the audience has walked into the bathroom to find Cronenberg abusing himself. Everyone starts to look a little silly, and I started thinking to myself that the last time *I* was in a car wreck, it was the *least* sexy two hours I'd ever spent.

—Ian Williams

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© Copyright 2002 Ian Williams