Crash - Lilith Likes to Watch Famous February

Title: Crash
Starring: James Spader, Deborah Kara Unger, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas
Director: David Cronenberg
Synopsis: After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife. - Via
Lilith's Notes: Often parodied, never duplicated.

"It’s something we are all intimately involved in. The reshaping of the human body by modern technology."

Well, my fellows, Famous February is now coming to a close, and I hope you enjoyed this foray into glitzy, glistening celebrity skin. I know I did. But don’t pump the breaks just yet, we have one final film to enjoy. I can’t think of a better ending for this year than a movie about fast cars and risky love than the Cronenberg splatter-piece, Crash.

Also, it really sucks that when you mention this movie, you have to clarify ‘no, not the one about racism, the one about sexy car crashes’. When one says Crash, one should only be thinking of either sexy car crashes, or digital bandicoots.

James Ballard (Played by James Spader and named after the author of the book this film was adapted from) and his wife Catherine (played by Deborah Kara Unger) have a somewhat fraught sex life. They’re allowed to do whatever, it appears, as long as they engage in a story-time about it together afterward. Catherine is a bit pent up and while it appears she derives pleasure from sexual situations, she is unable to climax, so she seeks more out of the box experiences.

One night James is in a car collision that takes a man’s life. He becomes intrigued with the gore of it all, and the fragility of life. Or maybe the endurance of it. He encounters Helen Remington (Played by Holly Hunter), widow of the man who lost his life in the accident, and together they begin some twisted-metal affair.

Helen brings James into the fold of a crowd who all get off on injury and the beauty of the grotesque. Each character is the epitome of a Cronenberg brainchild, from the disfigurments, the heavy petting of muscle cars, or the traction of leg-braces that border on bondage gear.

James meets Vaughn, (played by Elias Koteas), a man who wants nothing more than to recreate celebrity car crashes. He believes his destiny is to die in one, and it is James’ destiny to help him.

Through this all, James relays everything to his wife, and begs to know the intricacies of Vaughn, of what it must be like to be taken by him.

Catherine is a goddamned cypher in this film. To say she is distant or detatched is an understatement. She is disconnected from all human emotion, and it’s a brilliant performance. It’s aided massively by the fact that Unger is so incredibly, etherially beautiful. I could watch the woman read the morning paper and eat a grapefruit. She is stunning. Her mythological loveliness really punctuates her distance from everything else. She is on another plane of reality, both physically and emotionally.

At one point, Vaughn, James and Catherine drive past a massive car accident. Theres something fairytale like about this scene, about how they're just allowed to trapes through it like ghosts. Ever distant and specter-like, Catherine sits down next to a woman who survived the crash, and observes the glass embedded in the side of her face. This whole moment might be the highlight of the film for me. Afterwards, the trio go to a car wash where Vaughn explores Catharine, not entirely to her agreement. The soft top of the convertible comes down, erasing their faces from view and slicing out anything personal, just showing the sexual parts.

As the car wash continues, Vaughn fucks Catherine, hard enough to leave wounds. Because that’s what it’s all about, right?

And so, let's discuss the most Cronenbergian set-piece of the film, wherein James fucks a leg wound. It has real SAW energy, by which I mean you don’t see anything. The way this scene is talked about in circles, you’d think James sticks his entire dick into an open leg wound. But no, you see nothing, thanks to strategically placed limbs. Thus, I’m led to believe he just grinded against that very textured scar. And hey, as long as everyone’s ok with everything and no one is getting hurt, you do you.

No. My big problem with that scene was that I wanted more of a connection between James and Gabrielle (Played by Roseanna Arquette). Why did she decide to take James for this outting? Did they even really share any meaningful dialogue before this? While I dig Gabrielle’s entire broken-bondage-chique situation, it kind of feels out of place? This seems like something Gabrielle would do with Vaughn, or perhaps Cronenberg should have made Helen and Gabrielle the same character. I don’t know. I need more fleshing out before they decide to leg-bone in a car.

The effects makeup in this movie is to be lauded. I could not see a single seam or mis-match or pucker. Everything looked natural and healed over, or open and sore. The textures in this film are phenomenal. Fluids against leather, scarred flesh against fishnet. Where does a leg-brace end and a PVC thigh-high begin? It’s beautiful.

Of course, the big question is… is this film sexy? I mean… yeah? Between traction-bondage, medical fetish, scarification, Deborah Kara Unger, shiny cars that go fast and wet streets that reflect neon lights, yes. It’s an interesting meditation on mortality and morality, on celebrity and fans.

Frankly, it’s kind of nice to see a film where differences are alluring, and disabled people are shown as freely sexual beings without feeling shame. If anything, we should applaud the movie for that, even if it does get too fetishistic for some sensibilities.

Do I already have a copy of the book? Maybe...

Best Moment:There’s a sex scene between Catherine and James where she keeps talking about Vaughn and what it would be like to fuck him. It’s very hot.

Worst Moment: James fucked Vaughn, but Vaughn didn’t reciprocate. Talk about a selfish lover.

LILITH'S SCORE: 4/5 - While this is an extremely acquired taste, it’s weird, entertaining and unique. Some things could have been fleshed out better, with more clear threads leading from one thing to another, but this film is brazen and shys away from nothing.

Until next time, my voracious voyeurs. I’m Lilith, and I’m always watching.

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