Crash 1996 Movie Scene Deborah Kara Unger as Catherine Ballard exposing her nude breast to Elias Koteas as Vaughan while they're in a car

Crash [1996]

There are only a handful of movies that can both arouse, intrigue, and gross you out, all at the same time. Crash is a seductively dark thriller following a group of people who find car crashes sexually attractive. Well, if that story doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will. Perhaps if I told you that the director is David Cronenberg. The same Cronenberg who brought you Scanners, The Fly, and A History of Violence. You should also know that Crash is actually based on a novel of the same name from the seventies. It features a sexually charged atmosphere that pushes you outside your comfort zone. So, you can expect a lot of nudity and bizarre scenes that never cross the line. Or do they?

When you’re making a movie about people who are attracted to scared bodies, sex in the car or during driving, you know that it’s going to be controversial. The movie opens with an ass-eating scene for fucks sake! This is also clear to everyone who auditions, making casting decisions much easier. And boy did they get that part right here. Practically the entire cast of Crash was magnificent. I want to single out Deborah Kara Unger as she was just so fucking memorable here. Okay, okay, we also have Holly Hunter in a pretty strange role for her and Elias motherfucking Koteas with his rough charm. Finally, James Spader seems to have specialized for these types of roles as he was already in Sex, Lies, and Videotape and subsequently filmed Secretary.

Catherine and James are husband and wife with a pretty loose definition of their relationship. They have an open marriage, talking extensively about their affairs. Soon, this becomes the only thing that turns them on. And both of them just can’t climax. However, one faithful night James crashes his car, and everything changes.

The cinematography is simply gorgeous and you will feel like you’re watching a music video. This is not far from the truth as Howard Shore’s soundtrack perfectly fits what’s unfolding on the screen. To me, this is a true masterpiece that features that forbidden sexual fruit vibe in a way only the nineties movies could. Wild Things and Basic Instinct come to mind first, with Showgirls lurking in the background. And if you wanted to go to the other side, 8MM is not that type of movie but it does deal with certain fetishes and the whole porn underground scene. 

This is not a perverse or depraved movie as it was called in the press. It turns the viewer into a silent observer, so it can be called voyeuristic but it never promotes or does anything wrong. It simply explores sexuality and the concept of fetishism. How does someone become sexually attracted to cars, sex in public, men with mustaches, and anything else you can think of? Also, how do love and the concept of traditional marriage fit into that world? And can they even fit? These are all valid questions that deserve valid answers.

I also want to talk a bit about attractiveness and what it means to be handsome or have a good opinion about how you look. It’s hard to date or take off your clothes when you’re feeling too conscious about a certain part of your body. About your scars, stretch marks, or anything else. And you shouldn’t be feeling that way. Crash normalizes this and it’s a sign of a wave of body positivity that hit the world in the coming years.

Now, I already mentioned nudity but I want to clarify that it’s not that in-your-face or awkward nudity. Nudity in Crash is sensual, inviting, and very tantalizing despite all the weird stuff. Moreover, you can feel that Cronenberg knew exactly what he wanted to do with this movie. I urge you to take a journey into the unknown and watch this movie. It just doesn’t get any better than this. And did I mention the short running time of just ninety minutes? I’m sure I did…

Director: David Cronenberg

Writers: J.G. Ballard, David Cronenberg

Cast: James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger, Rosanna Arquette, Peter MacNeill

Fun Facts: The sex scenes between James and his secretary didn’t make the final cut of the movie. Cronenberg felt that the actors’ chemistry was too strong and that it wouldn’t fit well with the rest of the movie.


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