Falling Down (1993)
Reviewed on 2008 January 28
Joel Schumacher created a stir by taking us on a 113-minute ride through the rough parts of L.A. and harnessing us to a certifiably crazy man as our tour guide. A decade later people still know what you’re talking about when you say you’re not economically viable.
William “D-Fens” Foster (Michael Douglas, with the ugliest crew cut and birth control glasses I’ve ever seen) snaps one day after a little too much time in L.A. traffic, telling us a lot about the guy and giving us a great claustrophobic opening shot within the first few minutes of the film. He leaves his car and when angrily asked by the other stranded motorists where he’s going, he replies “home”. The question of where exactly home is comes up later in the movie, but for the bulk of the film we’re just watching D-Fens try to get there. It seems that every time he turns around, other people — some outright crazy — keep making different plans for him.
What makes the film so surreal is that D-Fens isn’t correctly wired either, starting with leaving his car abandoned in the midst of a traffic jam. Things deteriorate from there, to the point that the LAPD are interested in his trek home. Detective Prendergast (Robert Duvall) even puts his retirement on hold to track down D-Fens and protect his ex-wife (Barbara Hershey).
I was lucky enough to first see this thing on the big screen, an enormous one that wasn’t part of a googleplex. If that isn’t enough, they’d just popped fresh popcorn. I can’t make good movie-theater-style popcorn, but I did get the DVD and I still enjoy each viewing. The acting, especially from Douglas, was convincing, but the script was amazing. On the one hand, yeah, D-Fens was a loon, but on the other, can you blame him for losing it with the snotty fast food employees?
Three chocolate morsels. And throw on a pot of coffee for afterwards, when you’ll want to analyze it.