In: Film and Music
American BeautyAmerican Beauty
This movie addresses problems that American families could face, as well as the people who affect their lives. The issues that take place are ones that no one wants to discuss, but can be very real. The characters include a closeted gay Marine named Colonel Fitts, played by Chris Cooper, and a man going through mid-life crisis Lester Burnham played by Kevin Spacey. Film critic Roger Ebert states, “This movie is more about sadness and loneliness than about cruelty or inhumanity. Nobody is really bad in this movie, just shaped by society in such a way they can’t be themselves, or feel joy” (2). I had sadness for the characters and was shocked by the way it ended. Most importantly, I found that I could relate to some of these issues.
One thing I did enjoy was how well the movie portrays homosexuality. We hear words such as “partners” which is in good taste, rather than “fag” which is in bad taste. Most of the movie shows openly gay people in everyday life. For example, there are lesbians looking at a house that realtor Carolyn Burnham, played by Annette Bening, is trying to sell. Another critic explains, “Evidently the only well-adjusted and relatively happy people in the neighborhood are ‘Jim and Jim’ (Scott Bakula and Sam Robards), a gay couple” (McCarthy 2).
Lester Burnham is a relatively normal person who simply has been going through the motions of everyday life. He hates his dead-end job. In addition, his marriage had become routine and more about expensive material things and less about love, compassion, and understanding (the reason he and his wife fell in love). The character does many unreasonable things, like lusting after a young girl and smoking marijuana. Fortunately, he redeems himself by the end and is not the bad man in the movie. I felt very sad for him before the movie ended.
The new neighbors, the Fitts, include a disgruntled ex-marine, his very quiet wife, and their son who was addicted to drugs and put...