Directed by Paul Haggis
Written by Paul Haggis, Robert Moresco
Starring: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton, Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, Michael Peña, Ryan Phillippe, Brendan Fraser, Larenz Tate
On the busy streets of Los Angeles, the lives of strangers begin to connect through a series of random events. As the consequences unfold, the people are forced to face a new reality.
This film was a passion project for Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby). He co-wrote the film with Robert Moresco (One Eyed King), and also produced and directed it. The movie went on to win Best Picture, and earned Paul Haggis an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The film features a huge cast of popular stars including Don Cheadle (Iron Man 3), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), and Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow). In addition, the film stars Matt Dillon (The Outsiders), Thandie Newton (Good Deeds), Michael Peña (Fury), Ryan Phillippe (The Lincoln Lawyer), Larenz Tate (Ray), and Brendan Fraser (School Ties).
This is an interesting story about the consequences of our actions and how they can reach further than we might imagine. The writing focuses on a number of select groups of people facing issues that stem from racism, poverty, crime, and personal demons. The story does a great job of weaving these elements into the lives of the characters without revealing too much. This allows the payoffs to work wonderfully. One of the strengths of this story is the fact that the payoff comes in a series of moments that differ for every story line. This writing style may be a bit distracting for some people since it is constantly twisting the story. Overall it’s still a good story that works more than it doesn’t. It also earned Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
The acting in this movie features a number of great performances. Matt Dillon earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his work on this one. His performance as the conflicted cop really carries a lot of weight. That can be said for almost every role in this drama. Instead of looking at each individual performance, it suffices to say that this movie features great dramatic performances from every one of the main actors. The controversial nature of this film required a lot of chemistry between the stars, as well as a high level of commitment to the emotional tone of the story. This movie got great work from all of the actors.
This film is nicely produced, with great visuals thanks to cinematographer James M. Muro (Open Range). In addition, the film has great costume work, and the locations were nicely chosen to highlight the social and economic differences of the people involved. The film also won an Oscar for Best Film Editing. The sound design and the score for this film is nicely done as well. One addition Oscar nomination came for Best Original Song for “In the Deep” by Kathleen York and Michael Becker.
When a movie is made about racial tension or discrimination it’s never possible to cover every angle. There has been a lot of controversy over the message of this film. While I don’t know what other people might take from this movie, I think the message is a good one. The story really embraces the idea that every prejudice and action comes with consequences. Some of these consequences make up the intense payoffs of this film. If you’re uncomfortable with the gritty nature of the subject matter this might not be one for you.
When everything was said and done, this film had earned six Academy Award nominations with three wins. This included Best Picture, beating out Munich, Good Night, and Good Luck, Capote, and Brokeback Mountain. If you’re a fan of dramas like American History X this is one you should check out. I would also suggest this to anyone interested in films about society and injustice. This is also a good one for fans of the stars. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.