American Beauty Film Critique

Table of Content

There are few movies that achieve the high degree of quality exhibited by that of the 1990 beautiful calamity. American Beauty. The movie is a true chef-d’oeuvre in both content and how this content is delivered to the viewing audiences. It excels at being an enlightening and relevant play about American life. and ne’er fails to maintain the audience entertained by supplying many cases of well-placed wit. Every scene is filmed including metaphoric elements that non merely demo great stylistic and aesthetics. but besides create a temper and feeling for the subject of the film.

American Beauty. directed by Sam Mendes. is a movie that is set in suburban America. in a normal vicinity. following the mundane life of the cardinal supporter. Lester Burnham. who is populating the typical ‘American Dream’ . He appears to hold a great occupation. large house. loving married woman and girl and even a white lookout fencing. However. all is non as it seems as visual aspect can frequently be lead oning ; if we merely “look closer” . we as audience members shortly see that he realises both his married woman. over bearing and commanding Carolyn and jaded teenage girl. Jane think that. in the words of Jane. he is “this mammoth loser” and they’re right.

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The character of Lester is ab initio portrayed as a down. sad and alone forty-year-old adult male. deprived of freedom and fighting to happen anything deserving life for. However as the movie progresses Lester’s character as a character is dramatically developed with the debut of an every bit challenging character. Angela Hayes. Everything alterations for Lester the dark he is forced by his married woman to his girls school to see her perform as a cheerleader. There on the floor. engrossed in a pom-pom routin. parading and dancing around the tribunal. he sees his ‘angel’ : Angela his daughter’s high-school schoolmate.

Angela fulfills the stereotyped thought of what beauty physical beauty is. She is thin. blonde. large fair-haired and instantly gimmicks Lester’s attending ; Angela is non Lester’s main road to bliss. but she is at least a accelerator for his freedom ( Ebert. 1999 ) . His ideas. and the dissatisfaction they stimulate. blare him free from old ages of emotional anguish and convey him right back to his young person. It is from this minute on that Lester transforms into a self-generated hormone-driven teenage male child. who smokes marijuana. works out. and uits his occupation all in order to affect his Angel-a. American Beauty uses Angela as the image of Lester’s broader want ; that being his underlying desire for freedom and evidentially beauty. However. she symbolizes the possible implicit in shallowness of physical beauty that is easy revealed towards the terminal of the movie. The movie portrays many of the concealed jobs within the white lookout fencing American dream along with turn toing the jobs many Americans have with feeling free and accepting their ain individuality.

The movie shows the immensely different universes that people can populate in whilst still populating on the same street. and the upset and craze that lies veiled in a society that we all try to portray every bit being every bit perfect as possible. In making so. American Beauty reveals that the lone manner to quiet the pandemonium is to happen beauty in everything. To “look closer” is a must for genuinely understanding and placing with the uninterrupted barrage of symbolism that is invariably being illustrated in this movie.

American Beauty portrays such subjects as the falsity in lecherousness. power and visual aspect and that we need to remind our egos “…of all the beauty there is in the world” . as beauty is a affair of sentiment. Beauty nevertheless. is the most important and explored subject in American Beauty. Another prevalent subject is the impression of the characters journey and transmutation throughout the movie. Lester’s journey can about be compared to one from childhood from maturity. figuratively talking as evidentially. he steps into a mature. paternal stage where he takes duty and finds significance in life. as an grownup.

Many techniques were used to portray these subjects and influence audiences sentiments of characters and events. including movie techniques of filming. soundtrack every bit good as such ocular techniques of symbolism. coloring material and contrast and both aesthetic and stylistic elements. American Beauty is a complex movie that relies so to a great extent on mis-en-scene and filming to portray its message. In peculiar this is showcased during one scene that genuinely puts the ‘American Beauty’ into position ; the gap scene or as it is frequently referred to as. the “High Point Scene” .

The movie explores the constructs of what true beauty truly is and as suggested in the rubric of the movie. the American Dream and how far this ‘dream’ truly goes and what it really means ; this is explored farther from the movies tagline “look closer” ; to believe about sensed desire and to analyse more what these wants are. Through the geographic expedition of the gap scene and a survey of how the filming. mise en scene and sound foreshadows secret plan points in the remainder of the movie. the implicit in messages and symbolism will be uncovered.

The film opens with a farinaceous shooting of Jane Burnham lean backing on a bed. kicking about her male parent. The scene begins with what is referred to as a brassy forward. in cinematic footings. The line “Someone truly should merely set him out of his misery” is a intimation towards the mid life crisis that the male parent Lester is presently traveling through and the ways in which she is cognizant of the hurting he is covering with. non cognizing what he truly wants. Through the mise en scene and filming displayed throughout the scene. the audience is enabled to have a glance into the events that have merely occurred.

Through the usage of a lesser quality image. rickety footage and dimmed illuming the audience is able to place with the fact that the imagination being presented has that of a ‘home movie’ feel. The use of ‘raw footage’ within this play genre of movie gives the audience a sense of world towards the character. hence doing the duologue seem more legitimate and credible. The add-on of a intermission into the characters dialogue helps to back up and show the sense of ‘reality’ farther. as it is as if she is truly believing about what she is stating.

The instead equivocal attack to the delivering of the line “You want me to kill him for you? ” helps to pull attending to Jane’s reaction as apposed to the interviewers ain connotations. This poses both Jane Burnham. the girl and the unidentified interviewer as suspects to her father’s approaching slaying. However the abstruse attack from the interviewer combined with the girls reply is boding what is to come subsequently in the movie. as each character related to the male parent is set up to be the possible liquidator of his decease.

By utilizing the organic structure linguistic communication as a primary tool for communicating. the answer of “Yeah. would you” to the old statement. suggests that she is about make bolding the interviewer to kill him. This is expressed through the dominant changing of degrees when she sits up. about making a displacement in power. and looks down and directly into the camera. but at the same clip besides insinuates some irony on her portion. The audience learns in the really first lines of the film that Jane’s pa. Lester. is non the male parent that she wants. The gap credits roll. and the shooting switches to an aerial position of a vicinity.

The exact location is non specified. and that is really knowing. It is of import that this non be a review of a specific country. but of American civilization as a whole. The scene begins with an aerial shooting of a suburb. with Lester Burnham presenting the audience to his life and informing them that “In less than a twelvemonth. I’ll be dead. ” and “in a manner. I’m dead already. ” This duologue is heightened through the undermentioned shootings of Lester lying entirely on a bed in a really dull coloured room. therefore meaning the meaninglessness life in which he is taking.

The use of an aerial shooting here creates the thought that the universe is looking down on him. The dominant usage of bright illuming besides indicates that it is the forenoon. nevertheless through the usage of shadowing casted over Lester. it expressed to the audience that he is still in ‘the dark’ ; he is yet to be enlightened. Ocular techniques are a changeless characteristic in American Beauty. including the usage of coloring material. contrast and symbolism. The primary repeating prop that is introduced at the beginning of the movie is a rose. in which the audience foremost sees in a stopping point up before Lester’s married woman Carolyn Burnham picks it up.

The first shooting of the rose seems out of topographic point. get downing with the flower make fulling the frame and so traveling down to concentrate on the irritants before Carolyn’s limiters cut it. The rose symbolizes the powerlessness of non merely the love life between Lester and Carolyn but the thought of the American Dream. This shooting non merely draws attending to the rose as a repeating object in the movie. but it besides serves as a metaphor for the Burnhams: on the outside they appear perfect. like the flower. but underneath they are icky and broken ( represented by the irritants ) .

In this shooting the character of Carolyn is besides introduced and is immediately perceived as a cold. workaholic who is obsessional about how they ( the household ) is presented. This portraiture is demonstrated through the line “See the manner the grip on those sniping shears matches her horticulture getas? That’s non an accident” . therefore demoing the audience what level she will travel to. to keep order and control. What is besides noticeable about this shooting is the mise en scene. in peculiar the ruddy roses. white lookout fencings and the bluish picture on the house.

These colorss in specific represent the American flag and hence the American dream. These objects are most sensed to be included within the American dream every bit good as stereotyped figure of Carolyn. the suburban homemaker. This political orientation nevertheless. creates contrast with the filming. Many scenes are metaphoric in how they are changeable. and what is in the frame symbolizes a higher. deeper significance. This is demonstrated when. Lester looking out the window of his house at his married woman. and the blinds on the window represent gaol cell bars.

Even the blocks of text on his computing machine screen at work. ( shown subsequently in the movie ) represent gaol cell bars. Lester is “in jail” because his life at this point is so empty and losing substance. This filming technique frequently used in movie nior is utilized to convey the emotions of disassociation and distance which in this instance. is the manner in which Lester feels towards his married woman ; he is no longer associated with her. American Beauty” is more than a biting sarcasm on suburban life. This slightly contrived narrative is meant to be an fable.

Alan Ball’s amply textured screenplay. brightly executed stylistic and aesthetic elements such as filming. mise en scene and symbols are efficaciously demonstrated throughout this chef-d’oeuvre of a movie. Every individual shooting is so carefully taken and layered with such huge significance that it is a wonder to lay eyes on. “Look closer. ” the film’s ticket line tells us. Look closer at the beautiful things we yearn for and pass our life chasing. There isn’t a individual illustration of a movie done better. Not merely is the content top-notch. but the proficient facets of the film are first-class as good. American Beauty truly demonstrates the power of movie.

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American Beauty Film Critique. (2017, Jul 22). Retrieved from

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