American Beauty is a classic example of a family in deep seated conflict and conflict management. The four horsemen are employed here regularly by the main character of Kevin Spacey who plays the role of Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis and a badgered and repressed husband who is absolutely contemptuous of his wife Caroline Burnham who is played by Annette Benning. Caroline is likewise contemptuous of Lester and his laizze faire way of negotiating through life. Caroline is a Realtor who is seeking status and approval from the outside world, her friends and her peers. Lester on the other hand is not seeking anything but to be comfortable and to find some semblance of balance in his very unbalanced life. He feels has a relatively ‘good relationship’ with his daughter Janey, a teenager but secretly Janey actually discusses having him murdered with a friend. Lester and Caroline both are completely oblivious of what is going on with Janey, and they keep thinking she is some sweet little girl that she used to be. She on the other hand is having a typical teenager identity crisis of her own, and is seeking her own identity with her own life and her friends. The main conflict that seems to under current the whole movie is the tensions between Lester and his wife Caroline who cannot seem to find anything good about her husband and or his work or his life in general. They are no longer having sexual relations and this tension is wearing on Lester. The scene of him masturbating in the shower is evidence of the sexual tensions they have and also the scene when he is in bed masturbating in his sleep and Caroline catches him and proceeds to have a row with him over it. She attacks him, blames him, emasculates him and he responds angrily and shouts back at her about her frigidity and it ends in hostilities and stonewalling. Later we discover that she is having an affair with a peer who is a status symbol of...
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