Saturday, May 16, 2020

Falling Down

Movie Name: Falling Down
Year of Release: 1993

Director: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey, Rachel Ticotin, Tuesday Weld, Frederic Forrest, Lois Smith, Ebbe Roe Smith, Raymond J. Barry, Steve Park, Michael Paul Chan, D.W. Moffett, Kimberly Scott

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5 

Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:

Director Joel Schumacher had a busy start of the 90s, commencing with "Flatliners" which premiered in 1990, quickly followed by "Dying Young" in 1991, all aimed at capturing the ongoing popularity of Julia Roberts, then on meteoric ascension to stardom. Following the mild response to "Dying Young" the director bounced back with "Falling Down", which premiered in the US in February, and was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival of 1993. The film follows the story of William Foster, an average man who just went through a divorce, and whose wife got a restraining order against him. He lives in LA, has recently been fired from his job, and the film showcases him spiraling out of control as his day starts, and he's stuck in traffic, under scorching heat, and his car's air conditioning has stopped working. He gets out of his car, and simply walks away. The film accompanies his increasingly bizarre and incident filled day, starting with an altercation at a convenience store, quickly followed by gang members attacking him, to name just a few, which eventually result in him carrying guns and starting to be tracked by the police. And all he wants, is to see his daughter.

"Falling Down" written by actor/writer Ebbe Roe Smith was a project that had its fair share of interest, until it caught the attention of Joel Schumacher who in turn sent it to Michael Douglas. The film has faint inspirational moments and certain tangents to Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" without ever being quite as psychologically nuanced or rich for that matter. William Foster is an every day man, going through challenging moments in his life, someone who has lost his ability to cope with adversity and progressively starts relying on violence to remove obstacles in his path. The film tries very hard to depict Foster as an every day man, and the situations as something that could happen to anyone. It's film that caused some controversy, particularly because it premiered following the LA riots of 1992, and also because the film somehow gives an impression of endorsing the spiraling violence that surrounds Michael Douglas's character (and how other groups and minorities are characterized in the film). In the end, the film isn't quite as successful primarily because the central character is very much always portrayed in a single perspective (not much humanity or humor ever revealed). Robert Duvall's supporting role, the police officer trailing Foster, is a far richer and more interesting role, since the character has a life, has its own quirks, traumas and sense of humor. It's a far more rounded character than any of the other ones in the film. It's nonetheless a film worth watching primarily due to its cast, with a trio of wonderful performers, namely: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall and Barbara Hershey. The cinematography from Andrezj Bartkowiak is solid, as is the score from James Newton Howard. Uneven, but still worth watching.