I spent most of this weekend with my quarter-niece Brittney! We’re the same age though (to the day), so whatever. Anyways though she’s got great taste in movies, and I’m introducing her to some of the classics and all these great independent films. I love it. This weekend we watched:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
and we’re working on The Hole, Casablanca, and American Beauty.
American Beauty (1999)
I was really excited to watch this movie. I’d love to someday be able to call myself a movie buff, and this is one of those films that you just have to see to have even a chance at that. I’ve been told by multiple people that it’s wonderful, and even a few teenagers have said that it’s much better than the typical blockbuster these days. After all that, I wasn’t disappointed one bit. American Beauty is not just about a man’s infatuation with his teenage daughter’s friend. That is simply a trigger, I think. Lester Burnham is 42 years old, and supremely unhappy with his suburban life. When he meets Angela, he begins to make life changing decisions. Independently, everyone in the movie makes life changing decisions.
American Beauty is amazing as a film and as a “study.” Every single scene in this movie is important (there’s not unnecessary fluff), and every scene accurately portrays some part of the typical person’s life. Lester struggles with boredom and depression, his wife struggles with her lack of success. Lester’s daughter has self-esteem issues; her boyfriend has family problems, and her best friend tries to be someone she’s not. These are all things that I think everyone has experienced at some point in their lives, and American Beauty ties up together wonderfully. There’s also ideas of an anti-materialistic lifestyle and choices (but not as heavily as say, Fight Club).
The movie is narrated by Lester frequently enough to get his point across without being overbearing. All of the actors did a very good job, especially Thora Birch (who I haven’t seen since Hocus Pocus and Now & Then!) as Lester’s daughter. The ending of the film was shocking to me, even though I had already guessed what would happen. Once it was over, I tried to decide which character(s) I sympathized with the most, and I can’t choose. There were a few unpleasant people in the movie, but by the end of it even they’ve got some points of understanding from me.
Interesting fact: The title of the film refers to a breed of roses (American Beauties) that while pretty and appealing in appearance, is often prone to rot underneath at the roots and branches of the plant. Thus, the tagline “…look closer” tells the viewer that when they look beyond the “perfect suburban life” they will find something rancid at the root. (IMDB)
I’d give American Beauty an 8/10
American Beauty (1999)
I haven’t seen this yet, but I’m going to watch it either tonight or tomorrow for sure. I think this trailer is really good, though!