In an American Suburb, Lester (Kevin Spacey), decides to change his life instead of living the “American Dream”. The decision is not well accepted by his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening), who lives an orchestrated and apparently perfect life. Their daughter Jane (Thora Birch), lives in the typical teenager rebellion against this way of live and exasperates seeing the crush her dad is developing for her friend Angela (Mena Suvari). But new neighbors will arrive to the neighborhood, and with them Ricky (Wes Bentley), will arrive and show another point of view on their reality. The movie begins with Lester telling the changes of the last year and telling us that in one year he will not be alive anymore.
How will that happen?
The critic of the American suburban way of life
The movie speaks about the high middle class of the end of the nineties, which live in a formatted ambiance. Completely petrified by this kind of life, he decides to quit his job and start doing all the things that make him pleasure. Carolyn doesn’t agree with all these changes, and tries to keep their apparently perfect life, in complete denial. Throughout the film we can see a critic and at the same time a compliment to the American dream.
The last shot of this movie is a sky perspective from the suburbs, and Lester who says
“I can feel nothing but gratitude for my stupid little life”.
So, American Beauty invites us to look closer to this normality, and find beauty in the world.
Look closer…and find beauty in the world
One of the most emblematic scenes is Ricky’s paper bag video floating in the air. In the middle of the film, this scene is its essence. It tells us to find joy in the ordinary and the true and simple beauty of things. With a great photography, American Beauty relies also a lot on symbology: the red roses which represent either the desire for Angela or the new life and energy Lester is building. However, with Carolyn, roses represent classicism, high-class standards, and the perfect arranged life Carolyn wants and insists to live. The color even gains more force in the end of the movie, where we discover how Lester death is. Instead of making we think about death, that red remits us to life.
The movie, even if it tells a lot of things and raises all these questions, is very light and funny and easy to see. So it’s a perfect option for a Sunday afternoon on the couch or a blues moment, because it will, surely, make you feel better!