American Beauty - a Sociological Movie Review Essay

2074 Words Nov 12th, 2006 9 Pages
American Beauty
A Sociological Movie Review

American Beauty, a film that was written by Allan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes in 1999 is a unique piece that demonstrates many sociological themes throughout the development of the plot. The characters strive to portray themselves as the All American Family. They live in a nice house, drive nice cars and seem perfectly normal to the general public, but the audience is allowed to view the deep set issues that plague the main characters; Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), Carolyn Burnham (Annette Bening), Jane Burnham (Thora Birch), and Jane's best friend Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari). As the plot develops there are many obvious parallels relating the lives of the characters to Merton's Strain
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During the course of the film, Lester Burnham goes through a large change. When we first meet Lester he is living his life as a ritualist. He goes to work every day because that is what he is supposed to do, but he puts in little to no effort and he has little regard for the completion of his goals. He has no motivation. His marriage is failing and he has an empty relationship with his daughter. Lester says "both my wife and daughter think I'm this gigantic loser, and they're right, I have lost something. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I know I didn't always feel this…sedated. But you know what; it's never too late to get it back" (American Beauty). From this statement we can see that there is going to be a change in Lester over the course of the movie.
When he meets Jane's friend Angela we can see an immediate change in Lester. He lusts for her constantly and his life becomes consumed by trying to spend time with her and help her to be attracted to him. He suddenly becomes more enthusiastic about life. He describes this as feeling that he had been in a coma for twenty years and he is finally waking up. After this Lester completely alters his lifestyle. He leaves his job, begins to work out everyday, buys his dream car and starts smoking pot with Ricky Fitz. Before he met Angela, Carolyn was in charge of everything that happened around the house and she made all of the
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