Falling Down

Mental breakdowns are as common today as in the mid-90’s Los Angeles when, on a hot summer morning, William “D-Fens” Foster (Michael Douglas) reaches that point. Stuck in traffic, he abandons his car continuing on foot towards Venice Beach, where his little daughter and ex-wife live. Unemployed, angry, frustrated, with a restraining order prohibiting to visit them, he is ready to throw in the proverbial towel.

On the other hand, at the police department, Detective Prendergast (Robert Duvall) is getting ready for retirement on his final day as a cop when he hears about a man carrying a briefcase, shooting at people and things in different areas of the city. Although Prendergast is expected at home earlier than usual by his mentally unstable wife, he begins tracking the gunman.

Despite its intrinsic drama and tragic ending, the story has many scenes of dark humor impossible to ignore. In one of them, William faces a street under construction (one of those that appear unexpectedly on your way and seem never -ending) and bazooka-in-hand, he yells at the workers while shooting into an open sewer. In another instance, he politely asks a fast-food employee to serve him breakfast. He is told no since it’s already 5 minutes after 11:30, the cut-off time. Obviously, William is the wrong person to apply a rigid rule at this time when he has just “traded” his briefcase for a bag of weapons.

The 1993 film, directed by Joel Schumaker, makes us think about and empathize with people suffering from this type of ailment although not with their actions. This is a good movie to ask ourselves why do we get annoyed, angry, frustrated with certain people we might consider the “enemy” and with situations we label undesirable. Finally, the movie raises a question to which we still haven’t found a satisfactory answer in our society: How do we deal practically we mental health issues and the availability of guns?

See also with Michael Douglas: Solitary Man (2009), Wall Street (1987), The Star Chamber (1983)

See also with Robert Duvall: Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993), The Great Santini (1979), A Family Thing (1996)

5 thoughts on “Falling Down

  1. This is such a great movie! It works from several points of view: social commentary, dark humor (as you wrote), plot…

    I wrote about it in my blog, if you want to have a look!


  2. I actually felt a little guilty at the end for rooting for him in the first place…BUT he did make some valid points…just the wrong way to go about it like you said.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s what I find unique about this movie. You start by rooting for this guy in the first scenes until you realize he is seriously deranged, all of that with a healthy dose of dark humor. Not to mention the lessons we need learn from this issues we are still currently facing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This movie at first watching…I must admit…I could feel sympathy with the guy. Some of the events are things we probably daydream about (like the fast-food scene) but being sane we never would do. What he said about the construction site was probably correct about wasting money and time…I start losing sympathy for him of course pretty quick.

    After a second viewing, it affected me in different ways. This movie made you think…alot.

    A great movie that is not talked about enough.


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