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An Overview of "American Beauty" and How it Portrays America

            The movie "American An Overview of "American Beauty" and How it Portrays American Family Life Today.
             Beauty" is about a man named Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), and his ideal American family. "American Beauty" opens by having its propagandistic Lester Burnham declare, "I"m 42 years old and in less than a year I"ll be dead. Of course, I don't know that yet. In a way I"m dead already." In this simple manner the film establishes its somber tone, its dry sense of humor, its non-linear narration, and its characters fate. Having revealed the fatal outcome, what follows is a brief overview of the final days of Lester's frustrated life; of his wife Carolyn's (Annette Bening) systematic belittling of him and all things associated with him; and of their daughters (Thora Birch) overpowering contempt towards both of them. We first meet Lester as we glide over his uniformly common neighborhood and to his red front door. In voice over he tells us he is "trapped on the proverbial treadmill of his white-collar existence." Lester is a writer for a big time magazine; his wife Carolyn is a successful real estate agent. The Burnham's live in the suburb in a white-framed house with a white picket fence. Lester's wife Carolyn maintains the perfect garden and even has pruning shears to match her gardening clogs. Their daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is a cheerleader at school, but home she is very glum and uncommunicative. The Burnham's sit down every night to eat dinner together, from the outside they appear to be the perfect ideal American family. In voice over, he tells us that he hasn't had sex in a long while; when his wife Carolyn catches him masturbating she accuses him of "being disgusting." His daughter Jane also thinks he's disgusting: "She hates me," Lester tells Carolyn, "and she hates you too." Lester feels forgettable and fed up as he remarks, "I wouldn't remember me either." To the horror of his picture-perfect wife and acrimonious daughter Lester tries to recapture vitality for life.

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