American Beauty, directed by Sam Mendes and The Virgin Suicides, directed by Sofia Coppola
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Reality. Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines reality as “something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily.” But what is real by today’s standards? Does what appears to be normal equal reality? By looking at two different films it seems that the old cliche stands correct. Things aren’t as they appear. American Beauty and The Virgin Suicides give classic examples of how “normal” and “happy” suburban life is anything but. American Beauty, directed by Sam Mendes (1999) and The Virgin Suicides, directed by Sofia Coppola (2000), share many of the same themes even though the plots are contrasted. Underneath the layers of white picket fences, beautiful houses, and safe neighborhoods, lies a truth. A truth so dark…show more content…
For they too were in their own cells. They both were confined to the hurt and desperation of having one of their children take her own life. Was it because of failure on their parts? The answer to this they will never know. And so they will continue to live in the prison of ignorance.
Other elements that are seen throughout both of these films are infatuation and obsession. Anyone who has seen the movie American Beauty can not miss Lester’s obsession with Angela, his daughter’s classmate and friend. He first sees her when he and Carolyn go to see their daughter perform at the school basketball game. Instantly he became mesmerized by her beauty and couldn’t stop the feelings he had for her. Obviously they were strictly sexual feelings. Is this normal? Is it normal for a father to have any kind of feelings for their daughter’s friend? It may be normal but it is not what is correct. And so in order to portray the perfect family Lester tried for a while to suppress the feelings he was having for Angela.
Carolyn is also a victim of obsession. She is overly obsessed with appearances. She often makes comments to Jane about the way she looks. She feels that she cannot be happy unless she is presented in an ideal way. “Because of the necessity to keep up appearances, a serene facade often conceals a breeding ground for dysfunction, anxiety, and hypocrisy” (Berardinelli). An example of this is when she is trying to sell a