Jung A Kim
The main character Lester and Carolyn Burnham are the perfect couple on the outside in the perfect house with the perfect family but inside Lester Burnham have a hopeless depression. Lester Burnham, a man in his mid-40x going through his mid-life crisis has grown very cynical and very convinced that he has no reason to go on. Lester’s relationship with his wife, Carolyn, strives to present the image that she’s in full control of her life, inside she feels empty and desperate. Their teenage daughter, Jane, is constantly depressed, lack in self-esteem, and convinced that she’s very unattractive. Her problems with insecurities get worse because of her best friend Angela who is an aspiring model for her. When Lester and Carolyn went to Jane’s cheerleading competition, Lester meets Angela, he has fallen into uncontrollable lust for her and she becomes the motivation for Lester to change his body and change his whole life. Meanwhile, Jane has fallen for the boy next door named called Ricky who lives with a homophobic father. His father has spent a lifetime in the Marine Corps and can’t understand the other way of life. His son Ricky is an aspiring filmmaker and also a drug dealer. Throughout the movie Ricky sells drugs to Lester and when Ricky went over to Jane’s house to sell the drugs his dad mistakenly believes that they are engaged in a sexual encounter. At the end of the movie, Ricky’s dad ends up shooting Lester.
The movie “American Beauty” seems to be a film that is very comfortable with sexuality. This film definitely depicts a variety of problematic sexual relationships. In this movie sex is one of the ways in which the character’s multiple dysfunctions are expressed. When Lester stopped himself from having sex with Angela, his decision indicates his awareness that freedom doesn’t go with irresponsibility.
I believe that the director of this movie was trying to play sex as a unique expression of freedom and...