Never a better time to write than when you’re feeling that way out, is there? Well, guess what, that’s how you find me as you read this, so it seems more than appropriate to discuss a film that’s *all* about feeling that way out, namely Joel Schumacher‘s Falling Down (1993) starring Michael Douglas which, while some unkind souls may argue does not have much to compare with on the part of either director or actor, is still very much the best that either has produced the entire length of their careers to date.
Douglas is unemployed defence worker William ‘D-Fens’ Foster, and he is a nut from the moment we join him, sat in his car in a traffic jam on a blisteringly hot LA day. A buzzing fly is really starting to annoy him – so much so, he storms out of his car, leaving the vehicle unattended in traffic.
When asked just what the ‘hay-ull’ he thinks he’s doing by a motorist behind him, his reply is simple: “I’m going home.” Except that home is with his former wife, from whom he is divorced and beautiful young daughter, whom he loves very much, and all he wants to do is give her a present for her birthday. What could go wrong? Well, unfortunately, D-Fens feels the time has come to get his own back on the society that he feels has mistreated him, and he is not taking any prisoners…
This works so very well thanks not only to Douglas’s superb central performance and the tight, pulsating script by Ebbe Roe Smith, but also because of Robert Duvall’s turn as Detective Prendergast, a desk jocky cop who’s on his last day – he’s leaving his job because of pressure from his wife (Tuesday Weld), an ageing former beauty queen who doesn’t want to be home alone any more. Prendergast, you see, has also had more than his fair share of pain in life, but how he deals with it, namely with quite strength and dignity, forms the contrast that we need as viewers before we start seeing things too much from the point of view of the increasingly psychotic central character.
But, own up, we’ve all occasionally toyed with the idea, haven’t we, that it would simply be so much fun to try and bring society crashing down around our ears? Oh, is that just me then? Never mind, I’ll just go and bash a few random strangers’ heads in, and I’ll be fine.
In a nutshell (or case) – Douglas has never been more dangerous, but hard is the heart that will not be moved by his plight. A startlingly good film.