American Beauty (1999)

"American Beauty" is a comedy because we laugh at the absurdity of the hero's problems. And a tragedy because we can identify with his failure"


"My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This... is my life. I'm forty-two years old. In less than a year, I'll be dead . And in a way, I’m dead already” says in VO "Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey),main protagonist  of the story, an advertising writer, father and husband while the camera is flying over a "perfect"sleepy American suburb neighborhood . 

"Look at me, jerking off in the shower.This will be the high point of my day. It's all downhill from here."

He hates his job, he does not get love from his daughter Jane (who is saving up for breast implants even though augmentation is clearly unnecessary) , he is ignored by his wife Carolyn (whose garden sheers match with her footwear) , his sexual life is non-existent , he feels as if he has no purpose in their lives, even less in this world around him.

"Both my wife and daughter think I'm this gigantic loser," Lester complains and in a way that is true.

Everything changes for Lester the night he is dragged along by his wife to see their daughter perform as a cheerleader. There on the floor, engrossed in a sub-Fosse pompon routine, he sees his angel: Angela, his daughter's high-school classmate. Is it wrong for a man in his 40s to lust after a teenage girl? Any honest man understands what a complicated question this is. Wrong morally, certainly, and legally.

"American Beauty" is not about a Lolita relationship, anyway. It's about yearning after youth, respect, power and, of course, beauty. The moment a man stops dreaming is the moment he petrifies inside and starts writing snarfy letters disapproving of paragraphs like the one above. Lester's thoughts about Angela are impure, but not perverted; he wants to do what men are programmed to do, with the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.

Angela is not Lester's highway to bliss, but she is at least a catalyst for his freedom. His thoughts, and the discontent they engender, blast him free from years of emotional paralysis, and soon he makes a cheerful announcement at the funereal dinner table: "I quit my job, told my boss to - - - - himself and blackmailed him for $60,000." Has he lost his mind? Not at
all. The first thing he spends money on is perfectly reasonable: a bright red 1970 Pontiac Firebird.

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