To paraphrase David Spade, I liked this movie better the first time I saw it — when it was called Crash. Just like the 2006 Best Picture Oscar winner, Germany's Shahada explores separate lives in their own state of crisis that intersect in sometimes unexpected ways. The difference is that Crash confronted race relations, while Shahada tackles religion. The steady performances, however, are undermined by Burhan Qurbani's script and direction. Having previously produced only short films, Qurbani should have a good sense of pacing, but here his dialogue and especially the action struggle to keep the viewer involved. And although Qurbani has said he did not want this to be a movie about religion, there is mention of Islam or Allah at every turn, virtually negating any real character development. There is no sense of where the characters come from, what drives them, or who they love and care about. Unfortunately, with characters this unsympathetic, you just don't care to find out. 9:45 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Regal Cinemas South Beach, and 5 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.

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