Thursday, May 5, 2011

Film Review--Falling Down

starring Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey, Tuesday Weld, Rachel Ticotin, and as Alan Thicke as The Beav.

An unemployed worker for a defense contractor (Douglas) has finally had enough of the modern world.  Leaving his car on a jammed Los Angeles freeway, he marches towards his daughter's birthday party...leaving mayhem in his wake.  A police officer (Duvall) on his last day before retirement (of course) must track him down.

When I first saw this back in 1993, I was unimpressed.  I now attribute that to having not lived enough.  I was barely, and I mean barely an adult at that time and had experienced nothing of the pressures of the real world.  Therefore, I did not see Douglas' character as all that sympathetic.  He still isn't entirely.  The writer and the director went out of their way to make certain we knew he was deranged on at least a few levels, thereby not glorifying any of the actions that he took.  A Neo-Nazi character was also included in the script as a token piece in order to avoid allegations of racism, in my opinion. 
I'm thinking that Franz Kafka would have had an appreciation for William Foster.  Foster is indeed an existential character, caught in an endlessly recursive maze, forced to endure mundane things that are highly valued by the rest of the world.  He is a quiet man who was ultimately obtruded by society, forced into taking action rather than be spit on again.  It is no coincidence that Foster's license plate reads "D-FENS." Not only is it where he once worked, it's who he is.  He spends the film reacting to injustices, operating only least that's how he sees it.  As many today might relate to, he yearns to aver himself to the world, longing to find meaning in his existence as he no longer has a job.  While he is a man who is disquieting to say the least, one can't help but feel compassion for him.  Mainly because through the at times darkly comical and other times disturbing ways in which he mocks the world around us, we see a little bit of ourselves in him, wanting to cry to the heavens about a world that just doesn't make sense anymore.  This is well worth a viewing.

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