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American Beauty

            "American Beauty" starts off from a video camera point of view showing a girl lying down on a bed, as the movie goes on you find out later that it's the main character's daughter Jane. She is talking about how her dad acts around her friends and how she is embarrassed of the way he looks at them. She mentions how she would like her dad to be dead and then a man's voice asks Jane if she would like him to kill her father. She says yes. The next scene is an overview of a normal suburban neighborhood. The narrator of the story introduces himself as Lester Burnham, an average guy in suburbia whose life has become completely unfulfilled. Director Sam Mendes shows insight into the main characters one at a time. The main character, played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey, is shown masturbating in the shower and comically adds that this moment is the high point of his day. Annette Bening plays Carolyn Burnham and is introduced to the viewer while tending to her impressive rose garden. Rounding out the picture perfect family is Jane, played by Thora Birch. Jane assumes the role of the insecure teenager when she is shown reading a web site detailing breast augmentation procedures. The film attempts to unearth the numerous inadequacies that have risen within the conventional family unit. The overbearing nature of Carolyn, the boredom driven fantasies of Lester and the constant anxiety of Jane. The actors chosen for these particular roles were perfect for the film. Kevin Spacey captures the main characters" midlife crisis with the utmost precision. He ranges from playing the self described comatose husband to the pot smoking parent who is reborn when he realizes he still has the ability to surprise himself. Bening plays the suburban wife well with moments of greatness that show how strong yet also how weak her character can be. The teenage tag team of Thora Birch and Mena Suvari, who plays Birch's best friend, seem like an odd couple at times but succeed in playing their respective roles.

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