Saturday, 7 July 2018

Falling Down

A Road Movie on Foot! This is the story of a man who, as we discover as the film develops, is troubled. Troubled by his mental health, his place in society, self-worth, tendencies towards violence and control of anger. It's a baking hot day in LA and the traffic has ground to a halt in roadworks. The man, played by Michael Douglas, gets more and more heated and exasperated with the situation until, in desperation, he throws in the towel, gets out, leaves his car in the jam and starts to walk home.

Home is the place where he used to live with his ex-wife and daughter before things had gone wrong, rather than the place that he now sleeps, his mother's house. Today is also his daughter's birthday and, even though he's not allowed near his family, he's determined to go there and take her a present. His journey across the city starts and it becomes littered with a series of interactions, conversations, liaisons and conflicts with various people. He gets himself into scrape after scrape in a multi-cultural city which presents him with opportunity after opportunity to sound off in different ways about injustice, unreasonableness, racism, social values, gang warfare, immigration and old fashioned values of family life.

As things develop, he ends up on the radar of the LAPD and a retiring cop played by Robert Duvall, on his last day at work. The cop begins to try and trail him across the city and intercept him before something catastrophic happens to him or those around him. The cop, who behaves more like a Social Worker most of the time, has his own back-story which opens up as things move along at a reasonable pace.

Things go from bad to worse and incident after incident just serve to make him more and more irate about everything in the world - and in his path. It's a sad film in many ways, though the script also has injections of humour along the way. It was made in the 1990's and it's really odd to see, what in many ways could be reasonably timeless, that nobody has a mobile phone! How things have moved on so quickly.

It's an enjoyable film and very well acted by Douglas in the lead. Duvall does his bit, too, laid back as his character dictates. Some of the close-up photography, particularly in the first half of the film assisting the depiction of the claustrophobia created by the inescapable searing heat of the day, is used very effectively indeed. The landscape is urban city streets and much poverty is reflected via the path he treads. If you've not seen it, I'd recommend you doing so. You won't regret it, but it may well make you think about some of the social issues which it raises.

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