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Cronenberg's masterful, icily fascinating adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel was one of the most lauded and controversial films of his career.
Cronenberg's masterful, icily fascinating adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel was one of the most lauded and controversial films of his career: awarded a Special Jury Prize for "audacity" at the Cannes Film Festival, it was both celebrated and strongly attacked in the press, and ran into trouble with ratings boards in the United States, the UK, and Australia. Toronto-based film producer James Ballard (James Spader) is injured in a car crash that kills the driver of the other car, but leaves the driver's wife Helen (Holly Hunter) hurt but alive. Both traumatized yet strangely aroused by the experience of the crash, Ballard and Helen begin a kinky, vehicular-focused affair, which eventually leads them to a strange cult headed by Vaughn (Elias Koteas), who recreates the traffic-accident deaths of celebrities and celebrates the car crash as a "fertilizing rather than a destructive event." Ranking with Videodrome as Cronenberg's most radical meditation on the interconnections of body, mind, machine and desire, Crash is also the culmination of that important shift in emphasis the director began with The Fly: absent the villainy of evil scientists, sinister corporations or shadowy government conspiracies, here Cronenberg's protagonists undertake their evolutionary experiments of their own free will, using their own bodies as test subjects.