Movie Faramir’s actions are so inconsistent and outside how I would behave, that I just spend the movies puzzled and frustrated by him. I like him, but I do not understand him. He’s all over the board. His personality jumps from competent captain (in guerrilla warfare, anyway), to falling prey to that overwhelming need to be praised/loved by his father, to being cruel, to being gentle, to self-destructive sadness -- and all without ever getting angry. Faramir never once loses his temper or even raises his voice. I think people who have every right to be angry... and who aren't, bewilder me.
One of the most heart-breaking scenes for me in all the movies is when Gollum is at the Forbidden Pool and Frodo is forced to betray Gollum’s trust. This scene rips me to pieces every time I see the movie, and I have sometimes left the room and returned when it’s over. I understand why things have to go down this way, but I don’t understand why Faramir seems to treat the whole thing as a bit of game. He knows full well when he takes Frodo out there that Frodo will tell him who Gollum is and what he wants to know in order to save Gollum’s life, but he plays it up and gets all smirky anyway. Be serious, at least, man! There’s a life at stake! That, and he way he lets his men treat Gollum. Why? Just because Gollum has an ill-favored look? Gollum’s done nothing to them but fish in the pool (yes yes, that bears the penalty of death, but sheesh! Kill him, then, don't abuse him.). Then there’s the weird way Faramir says “I think we finally understand one another” at the end of Two Towers, as if everything that happened up to that point was to make Frodo understand Faramir’s side, not like it’s a two-way street. I KNOW that’s not what he means, but that’s how it comes across in the way he delivers the line. It’s not the words themselves, it’s his delivery. I always shake my head there and make a face at him.
And I don’t understand why he stops thinking whenever he’s around his father. Denethor tells him to reclaim Osgiliath... he does not say “ride out there in broad daylight right this second.” In fact, Denethor gives no strategy or battle commands whatsoever, so it is Faramir’s choice as captain, therefore, to interpret his father’s orders. And he chooses to do it that particular way? Nope, I don’t get Faramir. He just makes me shake my head. Now, I’m all for following suicidal orders when your death will gain something. I’ll be the first to go do something dangerous that might result in my death if it will buy precious time, or result in some tangible benefit. No problem there. But I’m not one for following suicidal orders that will gain zero positive results. And dying only for the sake of following orders? No... I’m afraid I’m traitor material... I would not have obeyed my king. I do respect Faramir for doing so. It’s his prerogative. But I respect Gandalf more for knocking Denethor out and taking over the defense of the city.
I also think he frustrates me so much because I want to protect him from his own self-defeatism. He’s Boromir’s little brother, and I respect and love Boromir a very great deal. (I also equate Faramir with my own younger sister. She and I have a bit of Boromir/Faramir going on, and she reminds me of him... And I don’t understand her a lot of the time either. Maybe it’s a younger sibling thing? LOL.) I believe Faramir simply belongs in a peacetime environment. War is not his strong suit. He does it by necessity, but he lacks the skill and heart for it (he has no shortage of courage, mind you, but that’s different). I suspect, if I got to see him after Return of the King, in Ithilien with Eowyn, I might understand him a lot better.