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Review: Dirty

Dirty is clumsier and less earnest than Crash, but it’s every bit as totalitarian.

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Dirty
Photo: Silver Nitrate Releasing

Chris Fisher’s Dirty is clumsier and less earnest than Crash, but it’s every bit as totalitarian; the director’s idea of how racial hostility arises, expresses itself, and passes through Los Angeles is a fantasy only a person who’s never been the target of an ethnic slur could possibly mistake for truth. Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Salim Adel, a cop who follows the same boogie-man playbook used by Denzel Washington in Training Day and Matt Dillon in Crash, is teamed with Armando Sancho (Clifton Collins Jr.), a former gang member haunted by the shooting death of an old man Salim killed during the scene of a crime, on a mission that has them rubbing shoulders with the city’s black and brown lowlifes. While Sancho’s guilt wears on his conscience in the form of the old man’s jittery, wrinkled corpse (delusions straight out of The Ring that betray any pretense to reality the film often fronts), Salim busies himself scaring the shit out of white people looking for directions out of the film’s metropolis of evil and stuffing his fingers inside a Latina girl’s panties in order check if her cherry’s been popped. The man’s lack of decorum is matched only by that of Fisher’s aesthetic: choppy editing conjures the illusion of urgency, handheld camerawork strains for a faux sense of on-the-fly realism, and tribal music (like Crash’s Middle Eastern chants) condescendingly highlights a crucial moment of desperation. The film is a strange brew: an inquisition of racial and authority conflict with a J-Horror mindset. Like Paul Haggis before him, Fisher has fashioned an epic miscalculation.

Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr., Clifton Collins Jr., Cole Hauser, Wyclef Jean, Keith David, Taboo Director: Chris Fisher Screenwriter: Chris Fisher, Gil Reavill, Eric Saks Distributor: Silver Nitrate Releasing Running Time: 97 min Rating: R Year: 2005 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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