American Beauty depicts modern dysfunctional families that appear to be happy on the outside, while on the inside they have tremendous deep-rooted problems. The movie begins to show many Freudian psychotic traits when unhappy Lester Burnham loses his job and begins a stereotypical male mid-life crisis by buying a red sports car, smoking marijuana, exercising maniacally, and fantasizing about younger women. He lusts after his daughter Jane's best friend a beautiful blond named Angela. Angela is really a virgin although she lies continually about sexual encounters with many men, this being an example of moratorium. She lusts after Lester as well (or so she says), and makes no attempt to hide the fact that she loves the father image in him. At the end of the movie when Lester gets his opportunity to take advantage of Angela's infatuation, he can't go through with it. He realizes that she is not the experienced woman she has made herself out and that he has envisioned her to be and she actually reminds him of his own daughter.
Freud believed very strongly in the Oedipus and Elektra complexes, the sexual attraction of a child to the parent of the opposite sex. What he doesn't discuss however, is the attraction, if any, of the parent to the child. In my opinion, while the parent might be closer to that child because of the child's affection, only a parent with horrible mental problems would act upon that. Lester's mid-life crisis, like other men who experience the same dilemma, is, in my opinion, a... [continues]
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