American Beauty is about a seemingly normal suburban family and the father, Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), who has a crush (more like an obsession) with one of his daughter’s friends. The rest of the characters all have their own inappropriate lustful relationships, as Lester decides to quit his job to smoke weed and “reinvent himself.”
This is a beautiful and twisted movie. It is honestly hard not to love everything that Kevin Spacey is in, but all the actors were outstanding in their parts. Besides Lester’s relationship with Angela, I found the relationship between his daughter Jane and her stalker, Ricky a fascinating storyline. There is a scene where he shows her a video of a plastic blag blowing in the wind (wanting to start again?) and says
“But it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst.”
and in that moment, I suddenly understood and justified his obsessions. This was immediately followed by confusion for why I justified the stalker, but it was a well directed scene. The other famous scene of the movie was Lester’s fantasy of Angela, where she is lying on his ceiling, covered in rose pedals, as they fall gently onto him.
Rose pedals and the color red show up many times throughout the movie, and my interpretation was that it was representing natural instinct that is being suppressed by the society the characters live in. For instance, the first time we see rose pedals is when Lester’s wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) is trimming them in the garden, showing society’s compartmentalization of nature.
They subsequently show up in all of Lester’s fantasies about Angela and in final scene (without giving anything away).
This is a brilliant film that will make you question what you know about love and lust. I highly recommend it.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%