American Beauty: Lester and the Character Arc
American Beauty is one-hundred and twenty two minute piece about a family, consisting of a teenage daughter with self-perception issues, a middle-aged wife that has an inferiority complex and a middle-aged husband with an extreme mid-life crisis. Most men that go through these "times" in their life normally buy a sports car (usually a convertible one that's in a bright color and extremely small, like one of those circus clown cars) and cheat on their wife (usually with a secretary or some other co-worker slightly younger than the wife). The family is miserable and very unstable. There is no communication between any of them, and they are all on self-destructive paths. In this paper I will focus on Lester's path, since he is the presumed main character out of this ensemble.
Lester's isn't very aware of his problem outright. His problem is that he wants to be young again.
He wants to live a life that's very unobtainable this late into his life, and by trying to achieve it he will certainly cause an already troubled family great pain and regret. He starts off working at some firm much like the C.C. Baxtor character from "The Apartment", except Lester is the aggressor in this movie (Lester the aggressor).
Lester meets his new neighbor Ricky Fitts outside a convention, and immediately they can relate to each other and begin smoking marijuana. Now that he is aware of what he is turning into, and relatively admits it by calling Ricky his "personal hero". He embraces his destructive behavior by multiplying it a hundred times and really going after the goal... sleeping with his daughter's teenage friend.
Instead of being reluctant and committing to change, he is reluctant to change. There are plenty of chances...