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Falling Down

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Falling Down is a chilling, provocative exploration of the American psyche, released in 1993, directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Ebbe Roe Smith. It features a stellar cast led by Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, and Barbara Hershey. The movie examines society, moral decay, and cultural decline in a unique, thoroughly gripping narrative.

Michael Douglas stars as William 'D-Fens' Foster, a depiction of the physically and emotionally oppressed white-collar worker in a dystopian Los Angeles setting. Bearing the separating markers of a neatly trimmed beard, short-sleeve shirt, and tie, as well as the iconic glasses, one can picture him as the classic ordinary American citizen. The character draws its unusual nickname 'D-Fens' from his car's vanity license plate, which subtly hints at the motif of defense running through the plot.

Foster, profoundly displeased and frustrated by the societal changes around him, experiences a psychological tipping point that transforms him from a dissatisfied citizen into an individual capable of violent outbursts. His unraveling unfolds on a crucial day when he chooses to abandon his car in bumper-to-bumper traffic and embarks on a peculiar walk across the chin of Los Angeles - a simple, ordinary, yet tumultuous journey filled with eye-opening, rage-inducing encounters.

Parallel to Foster's journey, Robert Duvall's character, Sergeant Prendergast, provides a different focal point. Prendergast is a close-to-retirement police officer with a sidelined career, a demanding wife, and a history hobbled by tragedy. Engaging in his own struggle with societal constraints, Prendergast's effective inquiries connect seemingly unrelated instances of urban violence, eventually directing him towards the path of the rampaging 'D-Fens'.

Barbara Hershey plays Beth, Foster's ex-wife, exemplifying the voice of reason amidst the chaos. Her character is integral to buttressing the film’s exploration of Foster’s deeper psychological motives. Through her, we get glimpses of the backstory that flesh out the traumatized and troubled personality of Foster, providing context to his reactionary moves.

Falling Down is strikingly graphic in its display of urban violence, with Schumacher highlighting the disquiet underneath the gloss of everyday life. The movie captivates viewers with a nerve-jolting suspense that keeps expected catharsis at bay. The cinematography, courtesy of Andrzej Bartkowiak, frames the cityscape as a concrete, heat-saturated maze and can make sunny L.A. feel almost claustrophobic. The ominously pulsating soundtrack composed by James Newton Howard contributes to this atmosphere, amplifying the dread that percolates throughout the narrative.

The cinematic brilliance of Falling Down lies in its controversial yet honest scrutiny of frustration, fear, and dissatisfaction simmering within the society. Stark scenes of the violent episodes depict civilization teetering on the brink and questioning the notion of the “American Dream”. The clash between Douglas and Duvall, both acting powerhouses, significantly intensifies the appeal of this film and draws a stark contrast that vibrates throughout the narrative. Their masterful performances and the intricate character development give depth to the movie, rendering it unforgettable.

While the movie portrays societal decay, it avoids taking any particular socio-political stance, instead only shedding light on the internal struggles and confrontations that individuals undergo within modern society. It's an unsettling shock to the system rather than a call to arms, balancing on the thin line between drama and thriller, between societal commentary and psychological study.

Falling Down can be characterized as an intricately twisted dark tale of the value system breakdown, fueled by spectacular performances and a keen eye for socio-cultural realities. It's not a story where one perhaps finds the comfort of resolution and redemption, but it undeniably pits the viewers against their own preconceived notions and biases, all the while leaving them on the edge of their seat.

At its core, Falling Down probes the disintegration of the American Dream and the possible destructive downward spiral that individuals can undergo. It is indeed a seminal film that continues to provoke debate and reflection regarding societal decay and individual cracking under societal pressures.

To sum it up, Falling Down, despite its age, stays relevant and alarmingly resonant in today's time, making it a must-watch not only for the movie aficionado, but also for anyone interested in a deep, oblique social commentary articulated through characters that are so terrifyingly real.

Falling Down is a Crime, Drama, Thriller movie released in 1993. It has a runtime of 113 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.6. It also holds a MetaScore of 56.

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Where can I stream Falling Down movie online? Falling Down is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Falling Down for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Joel Schumacher
Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey
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