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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting movie with a protagonist we can identify with., October 20, 2007
This review is from: Falling Down (DVD)
I've always found this to be an intriguing movie, and though it is no deep and profound commentary on our culture and behaviors, it does, nonetheless, touch on an issue of real importance in our society: the issue of social interaction between strangers, and how it can go horribly wrong. Bill Foster, the main character, is clearly presented in this movie as the bad guy. He's emotionally unstable, demonstrably capable of extreme violence, and judging by his relationships with his ex-wife and his mother, not completely in touch with reality. Nevertheless, as so many other reviewers here have noted, despite the fact of his bad guy status, one can't help but feel sympathetic with him. There's really no mystery to this; we've all been faced with rude store clerks, snotty fast food cashiers, supercilious rich people, and so forth. Some of us have even been face to face with violent, dangerous punks. And probably all of us have fantasized about punching the smug, sneering face of the arrogant jerk in front of us in such situations. Bill Foster is a sympathetic character because even though he overreacts violently (although I wouldn't call his response to the gang thugs, or the neo-nazi overreaction, as his life was truly threatened in those cases), in each case he IS genuinely provoked. Not one of the strangers he confronts thoughout the course of the movie would have had anything to fear from him if they had simply treated him courteously and respectfully.

This movie ought to be taken as just as much a warning about the potential consequences of certain behavior (in this case, rudeness) as another of Michael Douglas' movies, "Fatal Attraction" was about adultery. It's never a bad idea to treat others with the same respect and courtesy you would want for yourself. You never know what the person in front of you at any given moment is going through, or what that person may be capable of. And although this is a movie, a work of fiction, we've all read about violent road rage encounters, and other incidents arising from seemingly the most trivial provocation. Just the other day I read about someone shooting someone in line at a convenience store because the person ahead of him was taking too long to make a purchase, and responded rudely when urged to speed things up. Don't go around being rude to people. The stranger you snap peevishly at may just become angry enough to knock your block off. And quite aside from fear of what others might do if you irritate them, being polite is simply the right thing to do. And it costs you nothing, so why not just be polite to people?

In this movie, Bill Foster throws off the restraint most of use every day when faced with such provocations and irritations, and soon finds himself the object of a manhunt by the police. Even though he self-destructs in the end, and even though we are presented (in the form of Detective Prendergast) with a character who manages to cope with just as much stress and bad human behavior as Foster, we still feel a twinge of sympathy for Foster, right to the very end.
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Location: Norfolk, Virginia United States

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