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American Beauty Film Analysis

Essay by   •  March 11, 2012  •  Book/Movie Report  •  578 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,775 Views

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American Beauty Film Analysis

American Beauty shows that none of the characters, people in general, are as they seem. They all hide their shameful imperfections behind false personalities accepted by society. In fact it appears to be only Lester who has the mental strength to admit to himself who he is, and he's deemed as in the middle of a breakdown, and ultimately punished for it in the end. There is a line in the movie which refers to the power of denial, ironically this is what kills Lester in the movie's end. Also Ricky's role, played incredibly well by Wes Bentley, who's macabre yet optimistic view on life, becomes the catalyst that helps characters in the movie to evolve. Despite his vicious upbringing, he appears to be the only truly enlightened character, he not only brings Janie (Lester's daughter) stability that she can't find in her parents, but he also acts as a catalyst for Lester's re examination of his life. Although under his fathers cruel reign, Ricky is the only character who appears to be in control of his life, and ceratin of his own personality. He is able to see through the façade of certain characters and also the beauty in life. He states half way through the film what Lester has to die to discover.

We follow Lester's wife as a career driven real estate agent who beneath her façade of control, is equally as messed up as her husband and daughter. She begins an affair with a rival estate agent whom she looks up to, and proves to be equally as impulsive as Lester in her behaviour. Selfishness and irrationality seem to motivate the adults in the movie.

Sam Mendez, director of American Beauty, makes great use of sound and vision as exclamation, especially in the dream sequences, where Lester see's Angela shrouded in roses, with shots repeated and in slow motion. This shows themes that deal with the responsibilities of parenthood, the coming of age moments where we realise that our parents are not the infallible and righteous model persons that we believed they are throughout our infancy.

Lighting is used throughout the movie to accentuate the characters true personnality. For example, in one of the scenes when Lester and his wife Carolyn decided to come and support Jane at a school basketball game where she is to perform a dance at half-time, the director uses lighting to focus the audience on Lester's eyes and to show that he is being enchanted by what he sees. As Angela is shown alone in the frame, the background in the shot becomes completely black. There is a bright light shining on Angela. The source of the light is not clear, and is coming from above Angela. First of all, the light shining solely on Angela adds to the audience understanding that Angela is the object of Lester's attention. Secondly, light is usually affiliated with good and darkness with bad. The light compliments Angela's

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