American Beauty: Appearance Versus Reality

Topics: American Beauty, Sam Mendes, Mena Suvari Pages: 4 (1550 words) Published: June 24, 2011
American Beauty
Things Aren’t Always, As They Seem

American beauty (1999, Sam Mendes) is a very unique film with many different themes. The main characters in the film, Lester (Kevin Spacey) and Carolyn Burnham (Annette Bening) prove that there is a big difference in appearance versus reality. With the help of Colonel Frank Fitts, (Wes Bentley) we learn that people cannot just be judged by their outer appearance, but rather by what’s inside, because people are not always what they seem.

Lester Burnham serves as the films narrator. He is an almost middle-aged father, husband and advertising executive. Obviously, his marriage with his uptight wife Carolyn is barely hanging on. Their sixteen-year-old daughter Jane (Thora Bucch) is a severely depressed teenager. She struggles with self-esteem issues everyday. At the beginning Lester considers himself an all out loser who is easily forgettable. That is until Lester meets his daughter’s friend Angela (Mena Suvari) after a high school basketball game. He is immediately infatuated with her almost to the point of obsession. Angela, who is the same age as Lester’s daughter Jane, is an egotistical, aggressive teenager. She aspires to be a model and is the complete opposite of Jane. Throughout American Beauty, (1999, Sam Mendes) Lester fantasizes about Angela involving her and red rose petals. A new family moves into the house next door to the Burnham’s, a father Colonel Frank Fitts who is an ex marine, his obviously mediated wife and their filming obsessed son, Ricky. When Frank is introduced to the gay couple that lives two doors down from him he demonstrates a very narrow-minded attitude.

Lester and Carolyn have very different ideas on what makes a person happy. Carolyn, a successful real estate agent, believes that things or objects make people happy. She believes that if you look successful and have money than you’re happy. Lester on the other hand is a lot more laid back and believes that people and a...
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