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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > New Zealand > Australian > Crush (1992)

Crush (1992)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B-



Car accidents always make for odd films, whether it is David Cronenberg’s Crash, Philip Noyce’s Dead Calm or any dramatic film where such an event is not just part of an obligatory action sequence.  Alison MacLean’s Crush (1993) is such a film, and it is somewhat of a thriller, though not exactly.  Christina (Donogh Rees) and Lane (Marcia Gay Harden) go fort a ride, but lane is a risk-taker and wrecks the car.  While Lane just walks away, Christina is left for dead and Lane starts to pretend to be Christina!


Instead of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? or Single White Female, however, we get something else; a film co-written by females and directed by a female that walks the thin line between a character study of how women deal with each other and the male-dominated society around them.  It works better on that level as a thriller, which it is to a limited extent.  Caitlin Bossley and Miss Rees more than hold their own against Harden, one of the best actresses working today, which makes the study all the more evenly matched.  There is sex and some lesbian overtones, but instead of being silly and stereotypical, they delve into the idea of the loss of identity.  The issues of empowerment, especially after serious mental and physical damage from a car accident, play out distinctly.  MacLean also knows she cannot escape the book Crash or the Cronenberg film version.  While I liked that film even more, those who did not will want to see this film to consider where it succeeded and Cronenberg “failed” them.


Those expecting punctuated scenes and performances should pull back in advance and take the film in on the subtle level intended, as it is very smart and represents an alternate cinema that is cinematic and that Hollywood twelve years later still has not caught up with.  As for dealing with those who seem mentally handicapped, but are only slow from an injury, the film is smart and sensitive, though there is also irony in that the unempowered are still smart enough to know evil and want revenge.  This is not to say the film is reactionary on a shallow level, but understands loss on a human level and in human nature.  Though there are a few things we have seen before and certain conventions are unavoidable, Crush is solid if you are looking for an intelligent film and have a strong attention span.


The anamorphically enhanced 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 image is from a new transfer done in basic digital and approved by MacLean.  It looks good, and though it is not High Definition, this looks good thanks to subtle detail being retained.  It looks good on the DVD and the cinematography by Dion Beebe, who has gone on to big films recently with the science fiction adventure Equilibrium, the critically and commercially successful film version of the musical Chicago, and parts of Michael Mann’s similarly successful thriller Collateral.  You can see the unique camera eye of Beebe this far back and is impressive.  The look works here, as it seems to always work for Beebe, so those who want to see it just for the picture will not be disappointed.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has Pro Logic surrounds that sound good for a film that was issued in the old Dolby A-type analog theatrical sound format.  Anthony Partos did the original music that works well.  Extras include an audio commentary by MacLean and Harden, taped recently and worth listening to.  The original trailer for this and four other Strand films on DVD are also here, as well as a 1993 interview with MacLean on the film at the time of release (running just over 21 minutes) and her acclaimed short film Kitchen Sink from 1989.  Running just over 13.5 minutes, which I have seen before.  Shot in black and white (1.85 X 1), it features a woman working in the kitchen when she finds a hair in her sink drain.  It leads to a bizarre discovery that is dark and may be humorous to some.  You will see why it got people talking about her.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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