I recently saw the film ‘Disconnect’, which I enjoyed very much, and before it even began I posted on Facebook that it was “‘Crash’ with technology”. I was right about my assessment and it occurred to me that this film belongs to a genre without a name: An ensemble drama featuring many stars and a few different subplots that are (sometimes loosely) connected. Usually there’s a socially relevant theme. ‘Disconnect’ touches on bullying as well as our techonology-driven lack of personal connection; ‘Crash’ explores racism and prejudice as told through our vehicles. Don Cheadle has a great line: “It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”
‘Babel’ and ‘Traffic’ belong to this nameless genre as well. ‘Babel’ shows us what happens when we are lost in translation and ‘Traffic’ illustrates the way drugs infiltrate different social classes. All films showcase very talented and famous actors who aren’t showboating too much despite their fame. Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle (twice), and Cate Blanchett, to name a few. All films also explore the negative side of human nature but also the triumph of the human spirit. Each film has a dramatic climax during which each of the sub plots are connected. In ‘Crash’, people died. In ‘Disconnect’, the moment when there could have been multiple tragedies there were near-misses instead. The films are somber and somewhat depressing, but still well done and thought-provoking. To simply call them ensemble dramas is too simplistic. The only name I can think of that might be suitable is “Intersection drama” because the characters and plots intersect, even though it may not be obvious how initially. Just goes to show, when you Babel in Traffic, you Crash and Disconnect (aka don’t talk on the phone when driving).