Film Review- American Beauty (1999)

“My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don’t know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.”

AmericanBeautygifffWhere can one even begin to review American Beauty? There’s so much to take out of this film. After I saw it last night, I asked myself, “Why the heck have I not seen this movie until today?!” I mean, have I been living under a rock for the past 20 years? Typically, these are the things we say when we see a goodass film. Don’t deny this. When something hits us and makes us really feel human emotion, it’s like finally waking up and smelling the roses (like, literally…kinda). Magazine writer, Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), is a father with a moody teenage daughter, a husband with a materialistic wife, and he’s infatuated with his daughter’s friend. He just wants her and creates a fantasy of a life he could’ve lived; of the determination he should’ve had. What happens is a ride of self fulfillment, passion, unrighteousness, conformity, and beauty. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a narrative so explorative. Wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) is a woman who obviously pursues what she desires, whether it be male interest or just dominance. She slightly overpowers Lester in the household, but she also has her misdeeds and vulnerabilities to show. Let me squeeze something in: Kevin Spacey is an astounding actor; in this role and in everything else he’s done. The guy is a natural! I watch him on House of Cards (a very kickass, raw political drama) and it’s almost scary how good and on point this actor is when he dedicates himself to a role. Remember the movie Se7en (1995) ?? Well Spacey’s done a 180 on roles here. I don’t think I’ve seen him portray someone so curious, and it’s all so refreshing.

This film covers an array of conflicts and underlying emotions. You begin to sympathize with characters you once thought low of. It changes things up here and there, and it shows us that everyone has their own battles to fight. I truly appreciate the writing and the direction in this film. Many fans and critics don’t even know how to categorize the film as it’s so versatile. What is it about, really? The life of a suburban family? The troubles of teenage life? Is it about self identification? Perhaps it’s just a drama about marital problems. No, it’s everythinggg. It’s human life with a side of sarcasm. Oh, and there’s literally a part where a guy watches his footage of a plastic bag being blown around with leaves on the ground, and he says,

  “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.”

But his monologue is just so perfect. Darnit, how’d they make that little plastic bag so meaningful? Oh, and then Lester narrates over that same footage near the end concluding that: American Beauty GIF

 

I try to be as optimistic as possible in life. Sometimes life gets hard (and it will get hard), but that’s no reason to disown hope or the chance for a better tomorrow. It means we gotta look on the bright side. That’s not the only thing to take note of here either. If you watch this film, take with you the moral of this story. It’s not a bad film at all. It’s actually one of the best written ones, in my opinion. American Beauty is rich in beauty itself.

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