Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A thumbnail analysis of Falling Down

I watched the Michael Douglas film Falling Down last night.

falling down movie posterIt's a film that I'd first watched some 15 years ago or so and I remember thinking how effective it was. Douglas' character (D-FENS) seeming to swerve neatly between intolerant racist and plain old angry folk hero. His actions and reactions becoming more and more extreme with every scene until ultimately he holds up a burger bar with an Uzi, demanding to be served what he wants. All because he wants to "go home" and see his daughter Adele on her birthday. A daughter he's not seen in some time and a marriage he is no longer in.

I watched it predominantly to enjoy but I did have an eye on the structure and turning points.

In terms of the classic hook, inciting incident, point of no return, climax etc it was all there to see. The midway point in the film, the so-called point of no return, actually being described to the viewer in the script by D-FENS himself.
I'm past the point of no return.  Do you know when that is? That's the point in a journey where it's longer to go back to the beginning than it is to continue to the end.

Word perfect!

It's at this point that he'd just killed the Nazi store owner with his own gun.
This in itself was a useful sequence since D-FENS had up unto this point come across as a potential far-right nutjob. When the store owner insists that they're the same D-FENS takes offence. A fight ensues and the Nazi fanatic makes the fatal mistake of destroying the small present that the now extremely fragile D-FENS had bought for his daughter's birthday.

We unravel more of D-FENS as the film rolls on. Not merely through his actions but also with a little back story. He had actually lost his job at a Defense Company. His car number plate D-FENS reflecting his role rather than any identity. Convenient of course.

In many respects what let the film's experience down for me was its tying together of two stories. D-FENS himself and the retiring Prendergras - the desk-bound cop.
I would much rather have seen it as a tale about D-FENS collapse without the cop hunt. Largely because I think Douglas was more than capable of pulling it off. His initial Clint style attitude and casual swagger seemed to come natural to him and he handled the darker moments with ease.

For a character study the film impressed. I want to watch a couple more Michael Douglas films in the coming weeks.

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