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This movie shows that all of us have a limit, and we should never challenging it!
With a few years of production this could be an OSCAR movie in the present days, for its own realism, drama, story ...
We could ask Michael Douglas if he enjoyed to do this movie; however we already know the answer to this question: Hard , hard ... hard ... Character!
His shaved hair, shows to a different personality, some hanger and at the same time justice and fairness on his speech. Nothing like the old same good actor (Michael Douglas) to put us simply standing a few hours looking to our screen and entertain ourselves with a good film.
Some can pass this one, and give more attention to other Michael Douglas Movies, but I ensure you all... This one is not going to be a waste of time at all!
It is one of his best movies of all time!
Film Only Review:
Bill (Michael Douglas) is a man on the edge. Going about what seems a usual day, stuck in a traffic jam though he seems to flip totally out. Fed up of time wasting he seems to go on a rampage, with everything upsetting him after being stuck in a traffic jam!
Things get worse when he gos to liquor store to grab a a can of coke on this hot day and feels ripped off after being almost charged 85c (yes this film in American!) and him refusing to pay it and his day goes from bad to worse when drinking his can of coke he gets accosted by a gang and ends up grabbing a gym bag full of guns....
He feels that he and a alot a people are being taken advantage of with prices, being told what to think and becomes a bit of a vigilante but is that he feels unjustice or is he just totally unhinged? He had a family, Elizabeth (his wife) and his daughter Adele and what do they think of the situation? Is Elizabeth right to feel scared after getting a load of phone calls from him from payphones that are silent and/or threatening and after all its his daughters birthday and he wants to be there!
This is one of my all time favourite films and I saw it a long time ago and that's why I bought it, actually I couldn't remember the ending to be honest! Michael Douglas and what I see as his supporting cast are excellent though now in, 2013 this film is a little outdated being that this was made in 1992, spot the fashion (or lack of it lol).
What I got from this film was a feeling at the beginning of understanding. We all feel hard done by at times and I thought yeah I get you Bill but then as the film progresses you start to wonder is he right with what he is doing? People are being abused and in some cases even hurt. What you also get is not just Michael Douglas as the lead but a very good supporting cast too as I have previously mentioned Robert Duvall who plays Prendergast, a desk police officer is excellent. He is retiring the day that the chaos starts from Bill but most of his police station doesn't understand why so young he is retiring, though he has his reasons...mainly his wife.
All in all I enjoyed this 18 rated film. It isn't all that graphic and there certainly isn't sexual content and I do feel that a lot of 18 rated movies are a lot worse than this one and you what you get is a bit of blood and shooting but it really isn't that bad but you do have to remember this is a rather old movie so the special effects aren't really up to do todays standards. Michael Douglas puts in a really good performance of a man that you may, at least in the beginning understand and he is a believable character at the least. Worth a watch!
This review is also posted on Ciao under this same username.
I think this a great film that certainly makes you think and in some ways understand how someone may have some sort of a breakdown and act in the way that Michael Douglas did in this film.
There are probably alot of you out there who have seen this film, but if not, i'll try not to give too much away as obviously that would ruin it for those who have yet to see it.
Douglas plays William (d-fens) Foster; all he wants to do is to get home to see his young daughter on her birthday (Foster is separated from his daughters mother) but his day doesn't go too well! In the first instance he gets stuck in a huge traffic jam; (its a boiling hot day and Foster is dressed in a shirt and tie, with his breifcase); He ends up abandoning his car and from this point on his day just doesn't get any better.... it gets alot worse! You can't help but feel sorry for Foster, even though he does end up going to the extremes in what he does!
Foster goes through various very stressful situations which make him angry; i can certainly understand his anger and frustration with some of the things that happen to him!.
There is a great scene in Mcdonalds restaurant (not to be missed!)
Foster is pursued by a desk police officer (Detective Prendergast; played by Robert Duvall) who is about to retire due to his wife being ill .
The film, whilst a little shocking is funny; but it is also sad. The acting is superb by both Douglas and Duvall; with all other cast members playing great roles/acting the parts very well.
If you have never seen this film, go out and rent it now; you won't be disspointed!
FALLING DOWN (1993; Duration 113 minutes ); certificate 18
'The adventures of an ordinary man at war with the everyday world'
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Ebbe Roe Smith
Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey ('Beth'; Fosters ex wife), Tuesday Weld (Amanda Prendergast)
All other cast members play excellent roles and act the parts very well.
Ever sat in traffic in the heat wondering why their are doing roadworks, ever seen the picture of a big mac and then seen what youve been given ! ever been picked on by hoodies and thought that if only you had an uzi tot each them a lesson...well with the exception of the last one you`d still be sane. But what this film does is show the very think line between maintaining our civilised exterior and just snapping.
Synopsis: William Foster is an everyman working a job in the defense sector. At least that what the people around him think. He is divorced and doesnt have rights to see his daughter....he is also about to lose his grasp of reality.
Douglas turns in an almost oscar winning performance in this film playing Bill foster or D-Fens as he is referd to and credited for. I think he should have at least been nominated. Personally this is his finest role since wall street. D-fens works an intersting office job (at least he did) ut leads an uninteresting life, divorced and cut off from his kid. Robert duvall plays det prendergast a cop a few hours away from retirment (yes you wonder what is going to happen to him) whos an everyman cop, who rather use his powers of deduction rather then use rough street smart.
D`fens just snaps one day when sitting in traffic, hes the everyman middle aged white male who is over looked by the government , ignored by society and considered no threat by those he could harm. His objective is to pick something up for his daughter for her birthday and to get across LA to see her. On the way he has run ins with hispanic gangbangers, a militant neo nazi and a fast food joint that needs a lesson in customer satisfaction. Normally with quite violent results, with a slant on 'black' humour, like the scene with the road works...."whats the film called.....Under construction"
The soundtrack is fairly unremarkable, but the direction is great- amazing to think that not 4 yrs later Joel schumacher made batman and robin, the lure of the hollywood dollar ay ! (btw that film is on IMDB`s 100 worst films of all time !)
Rachel Ticotin (whom I last saw in TOTAL RECAL and Lois smith also turn in great performances.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Falling Down is arguably Joel Schumacher's best film and one of the most entertaining films of the 1990s, bolstered by some killer performances, particularly from Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall.
The film follows a recently laid off weapons builder named William Foster, but is frequently referred to and credited as D-Fens (Michael Douglas), who is also estranged from his family, including his wife (Barbara Hershey) and his daughter Adele, who have a restraining order out against him. However, on the hottest day of the year, that's not going to be enough to stop him from coming for them, seeing as it's little Adele's birthday. What's more, he has to deal with the urban discontent of inner-city Los Angeles, grappling with gangsters, stores that rip you off, neo-Nazis, and fast food joints that just don't deliver what they advertise.
This film really works as a powerful examination of the "white man's burden" - a look at everything that might stress you out if you're a fairly normal, white, middle-class man. It looks at urban discontent also, and people who simply aren't economically viable in the current world situation. Douglas channels this spirit with a sublime performance that stands alongside his bravura turn in Wallstreet as one of his best. Duvall is also superb as the cop tasked to take him down once his killing spree begins. As a tragic, altogether disturbing look at urban disconnect, there are few films better - this is visceral, powerful filmmaking with a wealth of dark humour and a genuine sense of pathos.
Brilliantly dark-humoured, wonderfully written, and superly acted by Douglas, this is one to watch. The protagonist in D-FENS is essentially the everyman, and the manner in which the film ends makes an important commentary on our lives. I love this film, and consider it something of a highly underseen classic.
The tag line for this film is "A tale of urban reality" which captures the essence of it quite well.
The film begins on a boiling hot day. The anti-hero Bill Foster (played by Michael Douglas) is stuck in a traffic jam. Cars honking, rude bumper stickers, insects and broken window winders begin to incense him. The director's use of quick shots and various angles capture the pressure cooker rage boiling inside him. "I'm going home!" he announces, abandoning his car.
In stark contrast, we next meet a cop (played by Robert Duvall) who is also stuck in the jam. He sees some graffiti and starts laughing. This is the first time we see this other man confronted with a similar situation which he handles very differently showing how key the reaction of the individual to any given problem is.
Foster's violence begins in a corner shop when he loses the plot at the fact the store owner wants him to pay 85c for a can of drink.
Next we see the cop's colleagues have filled his drawer with the contents of a cats litter tray. His reaction is nowhere near the extreme way Foster is reacting to things. It soon transpires the cop has a lot of difficulties in his life but handles them well.
Meanwhile Foster is collecting weaponry like a character in a computer game. He keeps repeating his mantra - "I'm going home" and we soon learn the home he speaks of is not his anymore.
This film is a psychological thriller. The kinds of things that frustrate Foster are the kinds of things that frustrate most of us on a daily basis such as:
*the inflated cost of goods
*poor customer service
*the false promises of advertising
This means that his explosions of rage are something, on some level, we can all relate to. The only difference between most people and Foster is the extreme level he takes his anger to. That is, ultimately, what makes this psycho ten times scarier than an abstract killer in a sports mask so far removed from what we know. Foster could be you or he could be the quiet bespectacled office worker that lives across the street from you.
The pace of the film is quick and the dialogue witty. The performances are convincing and the situations begin so banal that the descent into chaos and violence seems all the more shocking. This is a thriller that keeps you engaged and guessing throughout. It asks some important questions about what makes some people snap without justifying or glamorising violence. It is not an easy film to watch but if you like thrillers then you won't be disappointed by this.
This film is certificate 18 and with so much violence that's understandable. I picked it up for £3 in Tesco and you can get it on amazon for £3.68.
This 1993 action drama, which is slightly deep and dark, fast paced, twisting and turning, and a thoroughly entertaining thriller is the best movie that I have seen Michael Douglas in.
He is on screen for nearly all of the film but there are also some fine performances from Robert Duval (who is always convincing in any role that he plays), Barbara Hershey and Tuesday Weld (who I think was one of the most beautiful actresses ever in her heyday)
This is a superbly made picture in which somehow the writer and director have managed to piece together many different scenes into a time line that flows smoothly and is easy to follow and captivating for the viewer.
The story told is of William Foster (played by Michael Douglas), a man whose life is in bad shape and who suddenly becomes completely over sensitized to the every day things, faults and annoyances in society and general day to day living that most of us would either let wash over us, ignore, side step or be pragmatic towards. He decides, probably sub consciously, to adopt a fantasy approach that many of us sometimes wish we could do, at least in a small way.
Foster is divorced from his wife and is the subject of a restraining order against him; he is having trouble with visiting rights to see his young daughter; he has just been laid off by his employer, and very worst of all........... he is stuck in solid traffic on the freeway!
Foster's appearance is that of your average "John Doe", white collar American worker, trousers, shirt and tie, wearing spectacles and with his briefcase beside him in his car.
It's whilst at this total standstill in the traffic and in sweltering heat that suddenly the miserable state of his life translates itself into a form of behavioural madness. It is as if his whole being has being switched on to some kind of weird, non conventional Auto Pilot.
He just gets out of his car abandoning it in the middle of the freeway and decides to walk instead. Not walk on the sidewalk next to the freeway but taking a route "as the crow flies", across country towards the general direction of his destination.
The freeway appears to be in the middle of nowhere so he is probably miles from his destination but at that moment in time he doesn't care; he's had enough of his sad life but most of all he's had enough of society and is fed up about how life is currently treating him. So instead of just sitting in his car sweating his wotsits off and listening to a badly conducted and tuneless orchestra of honking car horns and drivers shouting abuse at each other he is just going get out of his car, use his own two feet and do what he believes he needs to do.
And what he believes he needs to do is simply one thing, the only thing that seems important in his life any more. And that thing is to get to his ex wife's house to see his daughter and to give her the birthday present he has bought. From this moment on in the film he has pure tunnel vision in respect of fulfilling that objective. And if anything gets in his way he will deal with it directly and in accordance with his own rules of justice.
There then follows a chain of events surrounding his route on foot to his ex wife's house. Each of these events is a cinematic and dramatic happening in its own right. Some events are violent and gory, some are bordering on the comical in the way they are portrayed on screen but running through all of these events is Foster's total unerring focus on his objective and his 100% conviction in his beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. On his journey in his own mind he is just a regular guy who simply wants to see his daughter, nothing more, nothing less.
These events include tackling a couple of hoodlums in a remote spot who demand a "toll" for walking on "their turf". Their turf is a field by the side of the freeway where they hang out. He gives them a chance to back off and when they don't he dishes out his own form of "justice"
He smashes up the merchandise of a small shop keeper as his punishment for what he feels is being over charged for a bottle of soda.
He then loses it again when he finds that he has missed the breakfast serving cut off point in a burger bar. By this point he has managed to acquire some powerful fire arms and instead of being just a crazy guy smashing a few things up (which is really all he ever was) he is now perceived as a menacing armed threat by any members of the public that he crosses paths with.
There are a few other incidents and in the film these incidents all piece together nicely with some of the characters he crosses paths with reappearing later in his journey in a particularly gruesome way.
Everything seemingly now going his way he starts to enjoy the new found freedom he has invented for himself that allows him to challenge any injustice (however small) with his carefree attitude of disobedience and the "respect" he has gained out of people's fear that his gun has given him. He has also become fearless to the point where if something that in his mind he feels is wrong or unjust he will just tackle it head on.
Meanwhile, with him progressively creating ever more havoc and with him now being armed the police are receiving reports of this ordinary looking guy in a shirt and tie shooting the place up in a burger bar, smashing up the shelves of a convenience store and all sorts of other crazy stuff.
There is only one man for the job....... Detective Martin Prendergast (Robert Duval), assisted by his cop partner Beth Travino (Barbara Hershey).
Prendergast is "over the hill", in bad health and is on the very last day of his job before he retires. But he is such an old pro that he'll take on this last case, without a word of complaint and with the same vigour as if it was his very first day.
To compound matters for Prendergast he has to endure persistent phone calls from his neurotic wife at home (Tuesday Weld) who is in constant fear that something will go terribly wrong on his last day of service.
So the story develops into a cops chasing "baddie" story (you as the viewer will have to decide whether he really is a baddie), with the cops always seemingly being one or two steps or clues behind.
Will the cops get to Foster before something even more terrible happens? Are Foster's ex-wife and daughter's lives in danger? Will Detective Prendergast survive his last day at work? You will have to watch the film to find out.
There are in my view some totally classic and sometimes laugh out loud at moments in this film: especially when Foster says "It's An Accident, It's An Accident", when he says "I'm Taking Prices Back Down to The 1970s", when he says "You Forgot Your Briefcase" to the hoodlums, and when he is involved in the accidental destruction of what in effect is a small oil refinery.
All of these moments will be of great entertainment when you watch the movie.
I find this a fascinating and totally entertaining film. It explores part of the human psyche that we all have a little part of in ourselves but that we never or very rarely ever act on.
A highly original and interesting commentary on the urban lifestyle, Falling Down stars Michael Douglas as the disgruntled antihero William Foster, who can no longer cope with society and begins to take matters into his own hands.
Stuck in a traffic jam on a hot day in LA, the protagonist (Douglas) steps out of his car, declaring to the irate drivers behind; "I'm going home!" He then embarks on a journey to visit his estranged wife and young daughter who is celebrating her birthday. When he first begins his journey, the viewer feels a certain sympathy for him, something which gradually increases as he begins to "fall down." He begins to take his anger out on rude shopkeepers, gang members and various other undesirables, soon becoming a vigilante and ends up procuring some heavy-duty weaponry, and acquiring a nemesis in Robert Duvall's character, Detective Prendergast, a savvy cop on his last day before retirement, desperate to catch William.
Much of Falling Down's merit comes from the way in which it begins to give the viewer the impression that the film will be light-hearted, by William's almost comical appearance at the beginning of the film, wearing a short-sleeved tucked-in white shirt and tie, while smashing up a convenience store with a baseball bat.
The film becomes increasingly deep, as Douglas becomes something of a bad guy, much to his own horror. This party of the movie has been noted for tying in with certain aspects of Nietzschean philosophy, particularly the nihilistic maxim;
"Whoever fights with monsters should see to it that in the processhe does not become a monster, and when you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you."
This becomes more and more apparent as the film progresses, culminating in a spaghetti-western style standoff.
In 1993 Joel Schumacher directed the paranoid urban tale of 'D-FENS', a character whose primary concern is to make it back in time for his daughter's birthday. However, along the way this white, middle-class, shirt and tie wearing everyman discovers that his journey is rapidly developing into a nightmare.
Michael Douglas is cast as the person losing his moral balance and being at war with the everyday world. At first, we see him sweating in traffic and losing patience so much so that he abandons his car on the freeway and declares "I'm going home."
Next, he heads for the phone box to tell his ex-wife the news. A phone call is simple enough to make one would think; however, D-FENS walks into the local deli looking for coins only to be told by the Korean shopkeeper that he must first make a purchase to be granted change. Fair enough, but eighty five cents for a soda doesn't leave him enough money for the phone call; grabbing a baseball bat from behind the counter, D-FENS proceeds to bash every overpriced item in the place in a fit of rage, then agrees a price of fifty cents for the soda, pays for it, and walks off, with his anger subsided.
As the story unravels we, the audience, are forced to make a distinction between an ordinary man and a deranged psychopath. Mid-way through things are taken to a new, hilarious level when D-FENS pulls a gun on the irritating manager of a fast food restaurant after he refuses him breakfast for being two minutes over the deadline.
Falling Down could quite easily be pigeon holed as a black comedy with its often cartoonishly over the top scenes of violence, but it is its balance of intriguing social commentary and the scenes with Prendergast (Robert Duvall), a nice guy desk cop who strives to bring D-FENS in on his last day before retirement, that illuminate the movie high above the illusory mess of "dweeb turned bad" that it could so easily have become.
Douglas' performance is as real as they come: his character is a combination of desperation and powerlessness that demands a response. Schumacher wants us to think that there is a little bit of D-FENS in all of us; what's clever is the film turns an ordinary man into an avenging lily-white, and then attempts to blame us for being deranged psychopath loving hypocrites when we start to root for the character towards the end.
Be warned, Falling Down is a gripping portrayal of the mental instability that can lurk behind every average human being within the seedy environment of their day to day life.
Don't mess with a white shirt and tie.
A film that expresses a brooding, western paranoia about the vast, sprawling menace of a modern, wayward society........
It contains a keen disillusionment, a real sense of being lost or at odds with society.......('at war with the everyday world')......where a psychological conflict is presented sympathetically, drawing on an emotion that all of us must have felt at some time; that of fear towards a threatening world unable to contain itself.
Michael Douglas is on top form in portraying the futile rebellion and latent angst of the loose cannon 'D-fens', whose temper and distress can be ignited at any time in the confrontations he falls into. This is where the drama originates a lot of the time, a kind of strange fascination in the viewer to accompany this man and watch out for his every move or reaction. The question will be as to how much sympathy will be evoked from his encounters.....how much will we agree with him...and there is certainly enough of this to make this film linger on in the mind.
This film is perhaps undervalued for its skill in conveying or exploiting Michael Douglas' ability to display conflicting emotion. There is great use of detail and camera movement, such as when D-fens holds a shoe up to the skyline and peers out at the hazy skyline, shimmering with its pregnant chaos.
There are in fact two central characters in the film, D-fens (nicknamed after his car number plate and former job in defence), and the straight cop of 'the old school', played by Robert Duvall (again, on top form). Both men are therefore patriots and intelligent upholders of the system and both face the struggle involved in dealing with alienation.....at home and in the workplace......that are two central arenas for the mainstay of the life of an individual...........However, it is clear that D-fens has lost this faith.....his work is now abandoned and there is disruption at home.......
There is no right or wrong answer to the problem that the film sensitively depicts......only the fact that Duvall's character is able to rise above the pressures while D-fens is irretrievably effected by the powerlessness and hopelessness of an unfair world.......where the central crutch of his life has been taken away from him; the love of his wife and his role as a father.
There is a sense of the old postmodernist fatigue.....the theme of being stuck in our worlds.......where we either take command or are brought down into a position of worthlessness. This film is interesting because its frustration is vented in taking command at the same time as being destined to lose......Just how tentative (simple, perhaps and yet complex) the psyche of an individual can be is here depicted.
The film is well constructed. Duvall's character Prendergast is able to look on the funny side...to rise above the insanity of the world (notice his reaction to the poster near the beginning as he also endures the morning traffic). For D-fens it is no longer a joke and perhaps it would be difficult to rise above it if there is nothing there anymore underneath......we can only appreciate his course of action........
Both characters are in the same jam. They are linked from start to finish until their confrontation on the pier, where D-fens confronts his family......and finds he cannot go back to them........society has got in the way......his lack of faith in it........his life is devalued.......he has been used by society......he has let the ills of society get to him perhaps.....he is now no longer in control........and is cast away........
Duvall's character fights for the little he has......a friendship, his wife.....while D-fens gives up and fights the elements that are not really to blame; his disaffection has led him into places where he does not belong.
The film has some nice depth - the children's toy D-fens buys for his daughter, which has the haunting melody of the title to the film - becomes smashed...'London bridge is falling down'.....a mood of real chaos and precariousness within a constructed society lingers......the bridge is mentioned in the film, as being the bridge that was transported over from Britain, 'superimposed' perhaps.........Duvall's character has a toy on his work-desk with the same melody.....
Does the state of the individual reflect the state of a society?.....this question is raised by this film.......it is a film that centres around specific modern anxieties in order to question beliefs about society where people are suffering and can go 'off the rails' in subtle ways. What is really in jeopardy?.....D-fens or the society that has produced him and his actions? In what ways do each of us act in response to fears and conditions in our society?
We are all implicated here....where we are witness to the depiction of the accumulative cornering of a man......the tendency for a blinkered society to contribute to the downfall of a person......where frequently the cause is a lack of supportive love or meaning or empathy.......
Both characters face a lot of opposition....they are both wronged........
They both want to set things straight.....but the struggle of D-fens kills off its own anger.......Does Duvall's character kill off his own susceptibility to such thoughts by confronting this image of himself in D-fens? He has the strength to carry on, to roll with the punches perhaps, where his own daughter has died previously. The characters are closely linked.
Junk and illusions.......a society that loses hope and faith is perhaps a society doomed to fall down.....this is the central message and warning.......
D-fens has gone too far on his spiritual descent to turn back....and this is perhaps the metaphor of the pier at the end........he has gone 'out there' and can only try and reach once more for his daughter before his fate is sealed.........
This is a one man tragedy...and Falling Down highlights the danger of such disaffection......It portrays an understanding of the sanity within insanity....the disguises of the edge and the sharp fall........
The change of shirt indicates some colour-coding in the film........where D-fens at least faces up to the problems, injustices and transparency of values that he encounters.......
There are two different kinds of strength presented......one of tolerance and endurance and self-belief that can win out in the end (portrayed by Robert Duvall), and that of having the courage to face up to and question the world around you. The latter is taken much too far by D-fens, but the power remains impressive.......
Duvall represents genuineness and decency, of not hiding behind cloaks, and of dealing with problems by defusing them in a light-hearted way...or simply by being proved right and gaining the deserved credence.....
There is a reference to The Glass Managerie (the play by Tennessee Williams) in the tiny glass figures of D-fen's home, associated with the theme of being closed in by the worlds at home and at work which we inhabit......the insecurity and obsession and retreat into precious things and by the fear associated with breaking out and into new worlds.............
This film has done a dramatic, successful and worthy job of highlighting very real social fears and it manages to resonate in the mind, reflecting a brilliant use of the function and nature of film to try and understand aswell as to portray. It is not all tragic or pessimistic, as we learn from the strength of the example set by Robert Duvall's character.
From its opening shot which gradually pulls back from an extreme close up of Michael Douglas' nose to reveal a claustrophobic city baking in the heat of summer, Falling Down sets itself up as a different film, one which places as much store on atmosphere as action.
It's difficult to say too much about the plot without giving too much away, but suffice to say it sees the enigmatically named D-FENS (after his car registration) undertake the seemingly simple task of trying to get home and suffering a REALLY bad day.
As mentioned above, Falling Down is a very atmospheric film. Director Joel Schumacher - not always one of my favourite directors - does an excellent job. At times, there is a really claustrophobic feel, a sense that D-FENS is closed in on every side by people out to get him. Then, suddenly, he'll change tack and go the opposite way, inducing agoraphobia by using vast, sweeping camera shots of the city to show just how small and insignificant D-FENS is in the overall scheme of things. It's a clever use of perspective and camera shots which really enhances the atmosphere of the film.
Schumacher uses his limited locations well to enhance this. This is a city choking under its own fumes, baking in its own heat; a city ripe of fraying tempers, ripe for disaster. It all adds up to create a surprisingly tense film which generates a fairly unique atmosphere. Remove this atmosphere and the film would lose much of its impact.
The other reason to watch this film is because of a stunning performance from Michael Douglas. OK, other people may appear in the script (Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey), but there's no doubt that this is a showcase for Douglas' acting ability. He may have won his Oscar for Wall Street, but his performance here is just as compelling. He takes a man who could (and should) be deeply unlikeable and unpleasant and makes him into a tragic, sympathetic figure. You may work out exactly where his character is heading and what his end will be, but you'll also be hoping you are wrong. D-FENS is not an easy person to like - aggressive, hostile and unreasonable, but you'll find yourself liking him more and more; and thanks to Douglas' carefully controlled performance, you'll find that the more unreasonable and aggressive D-FENS becomes, the more we like him.
The key reason for this is a very cleverly constructed plot which gets us on the side of D-FENS before we realise his true nature. Early scenes see him as the victim, fighting back against injustice, greed and bureaucracy - a real latter day people's hero. By the time the darker side of his nature comes out, we are already rooting for him and it proves impossible to change tack and start hating him. It's an excellently structured film which, along with Douglas' carefully nuanced performance, really grabs the attention.
The film also has an excellent line in black humour and, whilst it's not a comedy, it will often make you laugh out loud - sometimes rather guiltily - as on screen events unfold. Like the cleverly constructed plot, the balancing of humour and less savoury action helps to maintain the right balance between light and dark.
Despite this Falling Down is an often misunderstood film which divides people. Some see it as a film which champions the rights of the small man against suffocating corporations and the "commoditisation" of modern life; others see it as advocating vigilantism and fascistic ideals. In truth, it's probably a little of both. It's a protest against the rampant idiocy and bureaucracy which makes modern life so unbearable, whilst at the same time pointing out the consequences when people start to take matters into their own hands. It may not look like it, but Falling Down is actually quite an intelligent and thought-provoking film.
Other people dislike the film because it contains an awful lot of profanity, so may be unbearable to those who are easily offended. True, this language is used in context and seems entirely natural when spoken by the characters, but it will certainly put some people off.
More seriously, the film eventually lets itself down. Having carefully constructed such a clever script and been on the top of its game for most of its running time, it drops the ball in the final third. This section becomes more clunky, as we gradually find out the (predictable) reasons for D-FENS's behaviour, before everything is resolved in a rather formulaic and bland finale. Rather than having the courage of their convictions, the writers are all too keen to explain away Douglas' behaviour using that age-old get out clause of mental instability. Even so, two excellent performances - one from Duvall and the other from Douglas - manage to salvage something and prevent the film from destroying itself with predictability. Whilst the writers do at least slightly redeem themselves with an ending which is true to the nature and tone of the rest of the film, rather than the syrupy, unrealistic one which some people would have gone for.
Falling Down may have been misunderstood on its release, but today it stands in its own right as a hugely atmospheric and deeply interesting and surprisingly thought-provoking film. If you've never seen it and can stomach the bad language, I can heartily recommend it.
Director: Joel Schumacher
Running time: approx 113 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2008
I can't believe that it is 10 years since I first saw this film at the cinema. How times change! I was a teenager then, and I think I took the film at face value without really thinking about the message it was trying to convey. I added this film to my collection about three years ago, and to be honest, I had not even opened it until I was at a loose end last weekend, and the options on television did not look too appealing, so I decided to watch this. Michael Douglas is the star of the film, and 90% of the on screen action involves him. He looks older in this film than he does now, and that may have something to do with the pretty severe haircut he has received for this part of D-Fens (a poor play on words admittedly). Initially, he seems like a pretty mild mannered man, who has gone through a divorce and has a job that he does not particularly care for. All of that is forgotten when one day, all of the pressures in his life build up, and whilst sitting in yet another traffic jam on the outskirts of Los Angeles on a hot day, he snaps and decides that he has had enough of what life has thrown at him so far. The film follows his day after he decides to get out of his car, leave it on the highway and just walk to wherever he ends up. Initially, he has no plan (although this changes part way through the film, as he decides the only people he wants to see are his ex wife and daughter, even though he has a restraining order against him), and I think this is because his mind is just so mixed up, but on his journey, he encounters many situations that we all encounter every day, such as poor service, intimidation and family grievances, we generally seethe inside about them, but smile and walk away. In this film, the reactions are extreme, and at times pretty disturbing, but worryingly a bit close to how it could easily be anyone off the street who is pushed too far at just the wrong time. D-Fens wants the city the way he wants it, where all service is
good service, prices are fair, and people are not ripped off at every turn, although in reality, it was probably never like this in his lifetime, and his mind has started to play tricks on him, and he starts to confuse his dreams with reality, and that he when he becomes dangerous rather than tragic, and to be honest, his actions began to irritate me from the middle part of the film onwards. Robert Duvall stars as the police officer who is put on the case of catching D-Fens when his actions start to send ripples of fear around the city. He starts to sympathise D-Fens as his life appears to be a long list of failures, and he tries to stop the situation coming to a tragic conclusion. You are meant to empathise with the character, but I just found him too extreme, and his actions too outrageous for me to feel that I could share any common ground with him. The city of Los Angeles does not come out of the film too well either, as it is shown as a city full of people who are so paranoid about others, that there actions are unpredictable and unwelcoming at best, and murderous at worst, and I think this this is the strongest message to come out of the film, and this criticism could be directed at a lot of large cities around the world. We only need to look at the shootings and murders with occur with alarming regularity in this country alone. That said though, I think the film relies on too many stereotypes to try and get it's message across, such as Korean's who have set up lucrative business in their adopted country, only to routinely overcharge, whilst always planning to return to their home when they have made enough money. Maybe, my first experience of this film was more preferable, as when I have started to really look at the film in depth, I have found that the direction is not robust enough to hold up the story behind the character of D-Fens. Douglas is excellent as the troubled character, but there was just something lacking whic
h made me struggle to relate to him and his issues at times throughout the film. Duvall's role is a lesser one in the scheme of things, but he is extremely watchable. All in all, I have to say I was disappointed with my more mature viewing of this film, and whilst it did entertain in a way, it became a little disjointed and less enjoyable as it went on, so I would not recommend it unless it on television, and you really have nothing else to do!
Everyone has days when things don't seem to be going right on any account. We just suck it up and carry on. Falling Down is the story of one man who's having a bad day, only his bad day pushes him to the limit of sanity. Michael Douglas plays William Foster, a man who finds himself in gridlock traffic on the hottest day of the year. Instead of riding it out he exits the car and walks into a urban nightmare. He finds himself rallying against the things in the world that we take for granted but really are evils. For instance William walks into a fast food restaurant and finds that they won't serve hi breakfast as it's gone two minutes past the deadline, when he get's a burger instead he is annoyed that it doesn't resemble the menu picture. "Can anyone tell me what's wrong with this picture?" Things get more heated when he ventures into the more dangerous parts of the city. Soon a pattern of police reports alert a retiring cop on his last day, Prendergast (Robert Duvall) soons finds himself taking on a last crime with conflicting circumstances when his retirement is looming. Falling Down is a well acted and interesting story. What makes it work is that most of the things that William is angered are things that you can completely empathise with. Joel Schumacher also handles the direction well by not resorting to anything flashy and keeping to the basics and the task at hand. The dvd itself is an early release on the format but can be bought for under £8 online so the fact that it has no extras can be forgiven. At least we get an anamorphic widescreen trasnfer. Framed at 2.35:1, the transfer is merely adequate. The picture looks a little washed out and there are print blemishes. Overall you know it should be better but still it's better than VHS. As for the sound, well it's only a Dolby 2.0 surround track. The film doesn't call for many surround effects so p
erhaps a Dolby 5.1 remix wouldn't add a great deal but there are occasional momnets of intense action which would be enhanced. Maybe a special edition in the future will correct this. As for the extras, well apparantly menus and scene access count as specials on the packaging. Well of course they count for nothing but that's all you get. So this is a good film on an average dvd but at a good price. fir a few quid more than the vhs copy you could do a lot worse.
I have probably watched Falling Down more than any other film. At first I enjoyed it because of its narrative of a man progressing through a city and identifying the wrongs within it. There is both enjoyment in the acts D-Fens and also a horror, both in what he is doing and that we ourselves are taking pleasure in it. But the more I watch it the more shocked I am by the portrayals of the city of Los Angeles and the groups that inhabit it. Falling Down is a story about a man who has had enough. 'D-Fens' (Michael Douglas) sits in a LA traffic jam, becoming increasingly frustrated at the heat, the jam and the noise of those around him. We never find out why, but he abandons his car and sets out on foot, saying only 'I'm going home'. Literally this means a reunion with his wife and their child, despite a restraining order that has been placed on him. But ‘home’ has a much deeper meaning in Falling Down. In trekking across the city he discovers its reality and the different groups that he has been protecting in his work for the defence industry. Robert Duvall plays his police pursuer, Prendergast who tracks him from one side of the city to the other and who also has problems with the city and what it has become. Los Angeles is shown as a space of paranoia, of individuals seemingly battling against other groups that share the same space. This is not a recognizable place for D Fens. He has been fighting for a city that no longer exists, where a can of soda costs 50 cents and a restaurant will serve you what you want when you want it. It may seem surprising for the viewer that a man who has lived in the same city all his life has a completely different perception of it to the reality that has seemingly existed around him all his life. But LA is a city of freeways and of people who live cocooned in their own lives, with little care for or contact with their fellow citizens. The makers of Falling Down appear to be saying that
in order to see the terrible reality of what the city has become, the citizens need to abandon the ball and chain of the car and the freeway. But my problem with his film is that it makes out that it is portraying the real LA. Every group and race shown is a cliché. The Chicano gang, the retired golfers and the ultra right wing military freaks have all been seen before and undoubtedly will be seen again. The interest comes because these stereotypes all feature in the same film, and are portrayed as accurate and realistic characters, that the audience should trust are widespread in LA. Falling Down is supposedly ‘true’. Although an audience may not believe that all Korean shopkeepers overcharge and have no loyalty to the country in which they live, the introduction of such a character in such a film will at least create the impression that a lot of Korean-Americans resemble this. I have lived in LA and found that if you try and discover the real city, by riding the buses for example, you find it nothing like this. This is the view of those who are like D-Fens and spend their whole time in their cars, frightened of venturing onto the streets and demonising those that do. On the whole though, Falling Down is an intriguing and thought provoking film. The performances of Douglas and Duvall are exceptional and it is great seeing Douglas act his heart out and playing against type as an ambiguous antihero. Are we supposed to side with him or not? I still can’t work it out and the ambiguity makes it an intriguing film that I often return to. It plays on our preconceptions of people and is a lesson that tolerance and acceptance can only come through communication and interaction. In today’s internet age it is perhaps a lesson to us all to break out of our cocoons and engage with people more often.
This film, about a downsized engineer (Michael Douglas) who goes ballistic, triggered a media avalanche of stories about middle-class white rage when it was released in 1993. In fact, it's nothing more than a manipulative, violent melodrama about one geek's meltdown. Douglas, complete with pocket protector, nerd glasses, crewcut and short-sleeved white shirt, gets stuck in traffic one day near downtown LA and proceeds to just walk away from his car--and then lose it emotionally. Everyone he encounters rubs him the wrong way--and a fine lot of stereotypes they are, from threatening ghetto punks to rude convenience store owners to a creepy white supremacist--and he reacts violently in every case. As he walks across LA (now there's a concept), cutting a bloody swath, he's being tracked by a cop on the verge of retirement (Robert Duvall). He also spends time on the phone with his frightened ex-wife (Barbara Hershey). Though Douglas and Duvall give stellar performances, they can't disguise the fact that, as usual, this is another film from director Joel Schumacher that is about surface and sensation, rather than actual substance. --Marshall Fine, Amazon.com --This text refers to the VHS edition of this video