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A racial and economic cross-section of Angelenos collide over the course of 36 eventful hours in Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Haggis's ambitious feature-directing debut. It's what sprawling ensemble dramas like Short Cuts or Magnolia, about intersecting lives and unanticipated consequences, would be if they were built around discussion topics—which isn't a criticism. Such issues are so thorny that most movies swaddle them in layers of distraction; Haggis shoves them out front and dares you to deal. The overall impression is vividly complex and provocative in the best sense.

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