American Beauty (Modern Dysfunctional Culture) Essay

1012 words - 4 pages

Today's family structure bears little reflection upon its former counterparts of decades ago. No longer are family values placed before personal desires, inasmuch as contemporary families are often splintered due to each member's quest to achieve for him or herself. Striving for one's individual aspirations over and above the health of the family as a whole is what Sam Mendes' American Beauty clearly depicts, as it strives to portray man's unquenchable need to fulfill his own wants and needs, ultimately shaping modern dysfunctional culture.The film that I chose for this particular topic was American Beauty. American Beauty is like mise-en-scene candy. Each theme from repression to denial and fantasy to reality is clearly portrayed through the art of mise-en-scene. We often say that a good performance is "realistic." To me a good performance by an actor is making it seem as if they are not really "acting" per se; making the viewer believe that they are the actual character in the film.Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening play Lester Burnham and Carolyn Burnham, a seemingly happily married couple in Sam Mendes' "American Beauty" - by typical social standards, that is. What actually lurks beneath their otherwise normal relationship is the discontentment of one man's desire to live more of his life than merely being a cookie cutout of average people. Lester longs for excitement and intrigue to fill his lonely, boring life, and he has learned over the years that he cannot get these things from his own marriage. In essence, Lester and Carolyn have grown apart rather than together, no longer sharing the same elements that originally brought them together as a couple. What has come to pass that inevitably inspires Lester's mid-life crisis is a combination of lost youth, a life that is going nowhere, his marriage becoming more of a drudgery than an enlightening experience and a general sense of failure.Every character in this movie has some controversy in their lives. Even the minor characters are sharply drawn: a gay neighbor couple which is the only functional relationship in the film. As for the other couples in the movie well there's Lester Burnham and his crazy wife Carolyn and his daughter Jane who hates him. Carolyn is a real estate agent a who takes her job to serious is having an affair with business rival Buddy Kane. In the meantime Jane has fallen in love with the boy next door Ricky Fitts, Ricky is a little strange guy who is a drug dealer/documentarian which see beauty in a plastic bag flying in the air.Ricky father is a strict ex-Marine who beat down his wife and son to the point were the Mrs. Fitts never speaks. Ricky spends a lot of time with Lester which doesn't set well with Colonel Fitts. This is were the homophobia set in because Colonel Fitts sees Lester jogging with the gay neighbor so he assumes Lester is gay and trying to seduce...

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