A few days ago, I saw Falling Down (1993) for the second time or so.

(Spoiler ahead, if you managed not to see this movie yet)

During the movie, which in real time covers the best part of a day, William Foster, clearly in a violent mood, threatens to visit his ex wife, Elisabeth, to attend their little daughter Adele’s birthday party. He calls her a number of times. She is terrified of him and notifies the police until they get fed up with her and don't offer her any protection any more.

Beth stays at home, knowing that William is on his way. Isn't that strange? When she finally runs, William is already entering her house.

I understand that the plot needs suspense. But my question is, is it made plausible in the movie itself why she lingers so long?

(I randomly sampled the haystack of 346 reviews at IMDB, but no luck).

2 Answers 2


Aside from what is said explicitly in the film (and it's been more than 10 years since I last saw this), we never find out if William has ever threatened Elisabeth but failed to follow through - which might make her decision to stay until absolutely necessary easier for her.

Also, it's her daughter's birthday, which means that there will be a party, which means that there will be plenty of people over. This can help in some situations due to safety in numbers theory. Having people over for her daughter's birthday party might cause William to reconsider his threat, as he would have to deal with an unknown number of other people.

  • Your first point is the only point so far that has some evidence in the movie itself and therefore is somewhat beyond speculation. Beth, in a dialogue with a police officer is very vague as to whether William ever beat her. Jun 19, 2012 at 9:30

I think there are a few factors to this:

  • She clearly did not want him to dictate her life anymore. If she is forced to run away because of him, that's exactly what he achieved. Also if she ran away from him, it won't be over with that. He probably will try it again.
  • Maybe she still had doubts if he really would show up. If you are scared of something, your hope can easily convince yourself that it will probably not happen.
  • It was her daughters birthday, so she probably did not want to ruin the day for her over nothing.

Of course you are right, after the later phone calls it was quite obvious that he was not bluffing. Waiting with running away clearly was a bad decision from her side.


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