I have been every character in American Beauty. I have been miserable for wasting my own time. I have been obsessed with my couch, as it were. I have stood detached and enveloped in beauty. I have known i met someone before even though they forget me. I have been ordinary.
Movies that use a finite number of actors always connect to me on some level. Knowing that everyone from Kevin Spacey to the girl in the burger joint got their own chance to be directed involved me. Every second of American Beauty was beautiful and deliberate, carefully intertwining the characters as it went along. It succeeded where Magnolia failed for me by first showing us connections and then making them abstract, and by filling silence with meaning rather than filling meaning with silence. No one changed as much in Magnolia as they did in Beauty.
Change. From the first scene we know that Lester is horribly self aware. He admits that masturbating in the shower is the high point of his day. He has no illusions, and his lack of them is both his power (against wife Annette Benning) and his weakness (with his detached but cool daughter). We see the result of this lack of illusions play out; he becomes easily content with his life but alienates everyone else.
Also, three twists in the movie that i loved. 1 – Does Lester’s wife want to do that / 2 – Does the kiss really mean anything, or was it just a moment of trying to understand? / 3. Would it really be her first time?
The most intriguing character was the wife next door, and i wish i could tell you why. Sometimes i feel a lot like her. Scott Bakula was cast to a tee; the “partners” line was worth the price of the movie. The movie is worth the price of the movie; the Academy picked well (even after jilting Aimee Mann, featured below).