My sister, who lives in LA, highly praised this film about the race relations in the city. According to her, not only is it a fine piece of cinema, but also very true to life there.
Now, I can't comment on the accuracy of its portrayal of the city, but I agree that this is a superb film. The story is a tightly woven tale of interconnecting characters that never once becomes confusing. This is different from some other ensemble pieces - rather than all the characters knowing each other, this is a case of paths randomly crossing in the one thing that does connect each and every one of them - the city.
There isn't a single weak link in the large and impressive cast. Thandie Newton and Terence Howard are amongst those who stand out. I was impressed by Chris Bridges, a man I only know as 'Ludacris'. I'm always ready to scoff when rappers take to the screen, but he held his own well.
Both script and direction by Paul Haggis are superb. I've not seen any of his other work, but seeing this film makes me take a bit more of an interest in seeing Million Dollar Baby. The direction is involving, scenes of different plot threads often flowing into each other via the opening of a door or someone slamming their fist on a table. This was at times disorientating, but this only adds to what is, at times, uncomfortable viewing.
The subject at hand in this film is understandably a sensitive one, but it is handled with care. The film highlights various discriminations between the ethnic groups of LA - Caucasian, African-American, Mexican, Iranian, Hispanic, Chinese - as well as various cases of positive discrimination. None of the characters are free from discrimination or ignorance - many of the characters one first believes to be 'good' are in fact highly hypocritical. I felt that the Iranian shop-keeper was shown a particularly harsh light, whereas many of the other characters have more obvious moments of partial 'redemption'.
All in all this drama is engaging, even in it's most uncomfortable moments, with a sense of reality that is, at times, frightening. I only hope that this film provides an eye-opener for its audience, as none of us is truly free from the discriminations it portrays.