American Beauty is a film that delves into your typical, middle-class suburban home and slowly uncovers all of the abnormalities that lie within. The family is portrayed as normal, but as the films tag line suggests "look closer." It is possible to fully understand the implications that take place in this seemingly happy home. The film is directed by the famous theater director Sam Mendes and contains a number of techniques. The four essential techniques used in this film are symbolism, characterization, conflict and theme. Sam Mendes effectively uses each structural element to show the viewer that not everything is the way it appears to the naked eye.
Sam Mendes efficiently uses the color red; as symbolism to reveal character personalities and feelings. In American culture, red is a color of various meanings and images. The color red is the essence of life; it is the color of blood. It can insinuate energy, vitality, passion, anger, power, excitement, and sacrifice. Red can stand for warmth, danger, love, sex, death, rage, lust and beauty. In the film, red is used on various articles of clothing for a couple of characters. Carolyn Burnham, played by Annette Bening , is shown wearing a red blouse right before she has an affair with a co-worker. The red blouse symbolized, anger and lust both at the same time. Carolyn lusted her powerful and wealthy co-worker Buddy "The King" Kane. Yet, was angry because she was a residential broker locked into a continuous losing battle against him. The main protagonist, Lester Burnham is shown in the film buying a bright red 1970 Pontiac Firebird. This new car gives Lester, confidence and power, which he is not receiving at home. Red roses also play a significant role in this film. They are prevalent in almost every scene. They are in the garden; almost every room in the house has a bouquet of brightly colored roses in a vase.