Take another look at…Falling Down


Falling Down by writer-director Joel Schumacher mixes black humour with bitterness and violence.

It is about the disintegration of an ordinary man on the way to see his estranged wife and children.

The film still stands up after all this time because of Michael Douglas’ fine performance as the man who snaps.

Stranded in the downtown traffic of Los Angeles, Douglas abandons his car to walk to Venice Beach.

He is quickly established as a powder keg.

Ten minutes into Falling Down he destroys a Korean grocery store because the owner refuses him change for a phone call.

Later, he lashes out at a Latino gang member, a fast food store manager, and a plastic surgeon’s family.

These acts are brought to the attention of veteran detective Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall).

Schumacher gets impressive performances from both actors.

The scene in which Douglas watches an old home video is well done as is the climactic confrontation between Douglas and Duvall on the Santa Monica Pier.

Douglas’ downfall is frighteningly real and his misplaced anger at the world makes it even more so.

He blows up a road crew’s work site, for example, because he thinks the road does not need to be repaired.

So what is the message for viewers of the film?

As heady and liberating as Douglas’ behaviour may be, you can’t do it because you cross the line.

And once you cross the line, you become a different person.