By Jason Mendoza
Falling Down (1993)
Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey
Director: Joel Schumacher
Synopsis: William Foster is an individual who is down on his luck. Recently divorced. Given a restraining order from his wife to keep him away from his daughter. Fired from his job. In the middle of traffic, his car breaks down, so he decides to walk to his daughter’s birthday party. Along the way, he encounters certain obstacles that only fuel his frustration at the absurdity and hindrances of life, causing him to act violently. Meanwhile, police are trying to track him down.
Joel Schumacher creates a film that in my opinion is more relevant now than ever. In today’s cinematic atmosphere it would be called “the angry caucasian man” film. The film really does the best it can to display the behavior of a man who has reached his breaking point. It does it so brilliantly. One of the few Schumacher films I can say I enjoy.
Foster’s rage is one of the most enjoyable things I have seen on film. The opening scene really shows how much he has lost it. He proceeds to trash an entire convenience store solely on the fact that he thinks a can of Coca-Cola is overpriced. However, he doesn’t steal anything. He simply convinces the Korean store owner to lower the price. The absurdity of the situation is even acknowledged by the police later when the store owner goes to them to complain. The scene with the Hispanic gangsters is one of my favorites because it portrays them as cowards and Foster as a guy with a mission. At one point he even takes out a gun at a fast food restaurant simply because he wants lunch instead of breakfast. It’s odd however how I ended up feeling bad for him at the end, even after all the chaos he has caused. It just shows you how great the writing is. “I’m the bad guy?” really is one of the best lines I have heard in a film.
This film also contains a lot of politically-themed scenes. Like the Korean store scene and the Hispanic gangster scene. Foster asks the Korean store owner why he doesn’t speak English properly if he is in his country. He also is bothered by the fact that the gangsters expected him to understand graffiti that was written in Spanish. One of the best scenes is the Nazi shoe store scene. It cleverly makes it clear that Foster’s views are the not the same as the views of a Nazi. It’s a correlation a lot of people make nowadays. One of my favorite lines, “I’m an American, you’re a sick asshole,” is said in this scene. The golf scene I can relate to. I feel people shouldn’t waste so much space for nonimportant things such as golf. Foster’s beliefs are further emphasized when he refuses to give a lying beggar some money. He simply asks him questions to see if he is really in need or just is a lazy beggar.
The one major criticism I have of the film is that it never really gave us more information on Foster’s past. I feel it could have helped the audience understand Foster’s condition more. I also feel that Schumacher could have included one or two more scenes that put more obstacles in Foster’s way. I’m actually surprised African American gangs were never brought up since it’s Los Angeles. I really feel this film is underappreciated nowadays, especially given the current political atmosphere. Unfortunately, this film would probably not come out now, since it would be deemed politically incorrect. I give this film an A-.