Review on "American Beauty"

Essay by vengonCollege, UndergraduateA-, June 2006

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"American Beauty" as a film text, explores the main institutions of family, marriage, beauty and homosexuality. The relationships within these institutions are explored through the main character of Lester Burnham. The film uses these themes as way to challenge and reinforce the notions of real life 'truths', depicting every day scenarios through power relations and practices. These factors can be explored through the failed marriage of Lester and his wife Caroline and through the relationship of their daughter Jane. The meanings that are encouraged or discouraged from the text can be explained through the techniques deployed by the film, such as symbolism, characterisation, cinematography and music. American Beauty is strongly dependent upon the point of view of Lester Burnham, where narrative is constructed to create a sequence of events that leads to conflict between himself and his family and the themes explored through the text.

Lester Burnham is a middle-aged man who has a failed marriage and has an only daughter who hates him.

In American Beauty, Lester has only just 'awoken' from his 'sedated' state, and has realised what he yearns for the most; his loss of youth. Lester turns into a revived human being, when he remembers the things he wants and misses most. With the transition of Lester, Caroline (his wife) also begins to change becoming obsessed with having all the right things in life so that she can be a success. As Lester begins to transform, the failure of his marriage is replaced through his fixation of his daughter's best friend, Angela Hayes where he fantasises of a romance that he once and no longer has with his wife.

"American Beauty", as a film genre displays a realist drama with comedic elements. The genre enables life realities to become challenged and endorsed through Lester's point of...