Falling Down (1993)
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"I'm the bad guy? How'd that happen?"
That line won me over, instantly.
Michael Douglas spent a good portion of his career playing ordinary office guys falling prey to circumstance, but Falling Down takes the idea to an extreme. On a hot Los Angeles day, he goes postal, and we track his journey to his daughter's birthday party, and his spiral down the drain of madness. In a sense, it's about First World anger, and an escapist fantasy about a man who won't take it anymore and takes a stand against the rudeness of the modern world. It's also about mental health and how precarious it is, how one man is destroyed by it, while another, a cop played by Robert Duvall, uses his soulful humanity to resiliently endure even worse things. Those are two things that make this film still resonate today. The story should make you feel uncomfortable and I believe it does. Douglas' "D-Fens" is neither good, nor bad. You feel for him, but also find some of the things he says and does distasteful. You may start wondering where the film's politics are. On whose side it is. And part of it is Joel Schumacher's "big budget" direction, as if D-Fens was an ordinary Joe living in an action movie world, and this is what happens when he gets his hands on a weapon. The slick cinematography and Hollywood gunplay seem to glamorize a man's nervous breakdown, and once again, you wonder what the movie thinks of its subject matter. But I think that's part of its interest. Our own relationship to violence, real, imagined, repressed, fictional and otherwise, is examined. Are close or far are we from D-Fens' state of mind?
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