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American Beauty Film Analysis

836 words - 4 pages

American Beauty to this day remains one of the most brilliant satires ever made in film cinema in its heartbreakingly honest depiction of the social disillusionment behind the notion of obtaining the “American Dream.” This concept varies considerably depending on the context under which one assumes in examining this so vastly desired commodity, yet what American Beauty brings to the drawing board is the underlying deception inherent in the meaning that so many us in our consumer-driven culture fail to realize. Kevin Spacey is undoubtedly in one of his most groundbreaking roles to date as Lester Burnham, whom paints a portrait of a desperately yearning middle-aged husband and father having ...view middle of the document...

As we follow Lester along his journey of self-discovery and enlightenment, we are consistently reminded of the exquisite certainty that there’s truly beauty in everything around us, oftentimes found within complex places that we’re not readily familiar with upon the surface. This is the message I took away with me during the scene in which Ricky’s filming nothing more than a mere plastic bag floating in the wind; he’s in tune with his own sense of individualism and thus has the ability to shape his own reality through unique perspective. This is a fundamental layer in the thread of sincerity and beauty in imperfection that the film is interwoven through.
To show us the downfall in submitting to the imposed societal expectations of our culture, we’re similarly introduced to characters such as Carolyn Burnham and Colonel Fits, who are primarily defined by their superficiality and rigid needs to maintain public appearances; these are people who have seemingly done everything “right”—at least in their own regard—yet are internally the most tragic of all characters. Carolyn deludes herself into assuming happiness by adopting a positive-thinking philosophy of harsh discipline and self-affirming mantras. This method of self-help she employs merely serves as a euphemism for self-deception that even her gratifying narcissism doesn’t affectively mask. Colonel Fits is both emotionally and physically abusive towards his son, due to his struggle in...

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