What's the French word for Crash? Cédric Klapisch's serendipitous interweaving of the lives of disparate characters in the title city never resorts to the contrivance and manipulation of Paul Haggis's Oscar winner, but there are some close calls. As with the unfortunate Cameroon youth whose ordeal in trying to get to Paris serves as crass counterpoint to the mostly bourgeois melodramas of the rest of the cast.
That doesn't include Pierre (Romain Duris), a gravely ill dancer who passes the time gazing from his rooftop, Rear Window?style, at the city and its inhabitants. Or his sister Élise (Juliette Binoche as yet another struggling single mom). But certainly Roland (Fabrice Luchini), a snooty history prof, and his student Laetitia (Melanie Laurent), the object of his lust, seem vain and trivial.
Not to mention the usual whining pleasure seekers and neurotics. To his credit, Klapisch's world is inspired more by reality than by Screenwriting 101. And the movie is set in Paris.