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Falling Down: a critical look at the film

Uploaded by SomeGuyinATL on Apr 24, 2002

Rush Hour Traffic. Urban Decay. Rudeness and ill will towards our common man. A society clearly coming apart at its seams. And worst of all, you can’t get your hash browns at the local fast-food restaurant because they stopped serving breakfast 3 minutes ago. We’ve all experienced these types of frustrations in varying degrees, and probably felt some sort of primal urge to retaliate at what we perceive as a deliberate and malicious affront to our person. Well in Falling Down, William Foster (expertly played by Michael Douglas) does just that.

The film opens to a close-up of Foster, imprisoned in his sweltering car during his commute, or rather, lack thereof. The highway has become a parking lot, and rudeness pervades from all sides, in the forms of honking horns and profanity. We gain a real sense of the building tension, as we hear a super-imposed heartbeat over the soundtrack. Visually, the shots are dominated with warm colors, oranges and yellows. The pressure intensifies to near emergency levels, as the audience is certain that a panic attack is inevitable, and then… the door opens and Foster quietly walks away from his gridlocked vehicle. In response to a fellow irate motorist, he simply says, “I’m going home.”

So begins Foster’s journey, or rather descent into madness. In his exploits he encounters every type of meaningless transgression, each taking a higher toll on his sanity. He blows up at a price-gouging Korean grocer who refuses to give change for a phone call, and vandalizes the store. When confronted by violent gang members, he lashes out at his assailants and effectively defends himself. When refused service at a burger chain, his needs are only met after brandishing an automatic weapon. All the while we the viewers are cheering him on, eccentrically righteous in his quest to right these inane wrongs.

As the story progresses however, a much darker nature is revealed, as his destination is the home of his daughter and ex-wife, both of whom he is prohibited from seeing under a restraining order. He stops several times to call, each time becoming increasingly threatening. As the police become involved, it draws the attention of Detective Prendergast, played by Robert Duvall. On his last day before retirement, the detecive has seen the same societal woes that have pushed this man to the edge, and at times comes close to sympathizing with him.

What remains most disconcerting...

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Uploaded by:   SomeGuyinATL

Date:   04/24/2002

Category:   Film

Length:   3 pages (746 words)

Views:   1508

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