Discussion Questions for American Beauty
The movie American Beauty shows what can happen when one achieves the his 16 year old daughter Jane is unhappy and struggles with self- esteem issues. members because Carolyn is disgusted with Lester and Lester's relationship. American Beauty's cast interacts with Lester, but it's done so in a way that Ricky and potentially engage with Lester in spite of her relationship with Jane. They are temporary fixes trying to replace deep-seated problems;. American Beauty study guide contains a biography of Sam Mendes, Many of the characters' problems stem from their failure to develop or maintain a coherent identity. and the unfortunate belief that things can replace relationships. Lester's job at a fast-food restaurant and Jane's participation on the.
The characters subvert our expectations as viewers in a way that is relatable and satisfactory to the story. Colonel Fitts is a homophobic veteran who abuses his son and has a narrow-minded view of the world around him.
When he approaches Lester in the pouring rain, the film gives us the expectation that he might hurt or threaten Lester. Instead, he kisses him.
Film Analysis: American Beauty - Alex Panyasiri
We realize as viewers that he is someone who uses homophobia as a way to suppress his internal feelings. This motivation makes sense, and it completely changes how you watch the film and perceive the character for future viewings.
Ironically, Angela is preaching something all of these characters believe in. She stands behind this statement with a false sense of achievement, as if her physical beauty separates her from the idea of being ordinary. Angela inflates her ego by talking about her sexual experience and her physical beauty. When Jane and Ricky plan their runaway, we expect Angela to become upset with Ricky and potentially engage with Lester in spite of her relationship with Jane.
Instead, we learn that she created a fake narrative about herself in order for people to like her. She is a virgin who built up a wall of lies in order to impress others. They are attractive on the outside but susceptible to rotting at their roots — out of plain sight. Jane is the typical, angsty teenager who is angry towards her parents and angry towards life. She finds independence and romantic fulfillment through Ricky, her next door neighbor.
As tensions build up at home, she furthers her belief that moving away is the answer. Jane is the character which benefits the most in the story because she has the most room for growth beyond the end of the film. These arcs have a reoccurring problem — self-esteem. Ricky gives a monologue about beauty in the world while watching footage he took of a floating paper bag in the wind.
This bag was just dancing with me. He also buys several toys.
When Carolyn berates Lester yet again, Lester defuses her through compliments. He makes a move on her, and we sense a happier past. But before he can round second base, Carolyn breaks the mood, afraid Lester might spill beer on the couch.
Lester cannot overcome the sub-objective of salvaging his family life. He gets angry with her material worship and chases her away.
Despite acquiring material objects for himself, Lester is not happy. We flash forward to Lester running through the neighborhood. He looks much happier and healthier. While Lester makes a health shake in his kitchen, he learns Angela will be sleeping over.
Lester calls his daughter a bitch, just like her mother. This hurts Jane, and she leaves. Lester still struggles with the sub-objective of normalizing his family relationships, which prevent him from obtaining his super-objective. Later, Lester catches Carolyn having an affair with Buddy King. At the drive-thru Burger joint Lester works, Lester surprises the cheating couple. Carolyn sees Lester has been working a menial job, but Lester finds the work invigorating; there is little responsibility.
Lester calmly dismisses Carolyn and Buddy. By cheating on Lester, she has relinquishes any authority over him. Instead of feeling remorse or anger, Lester puts her affair in context of his super-objective. Not able to resolve his sub-objective with Carolyn, Lester is inadvertently given the liberation he needs to continue towards independence and self-control. After Lester buys more pot from Ricky, Angela and Jane run into him in the kitchen.
Angela flirts with Lester. Repulsed, Jane runs from the room.
- American Beauty: Insecure People | Character Analysis
Lester flirts back, but Angela is clearly nervous, and goes to find Jane. The Colonel has mistakenly confused the relationship between his son and Lester. Thinking Lester is a homosexual, the repressed Colonel Fitts kisses Lester. Stunned, Lester gently rebuffs his advances. Overwhelmed, the Colonel stumbles into the rainy night. This grace suggests Lester is ever closer to realizing his super-objective.
American Beauty: Insecure People | Character Analysis | Corvus Analyzes
Lester goes for a beer in the kitchen, and encounters Angela, sitting alone. She tells him about her fight with Jane, revealing to Lester that she thinks him sexy. Lester and Angela get intimate, and they begin kissing. Lester is within moments of having Angela, the catalyst of his super-objective. Lester takes off her clothes, and as they are about to make love, Angela tells Lester she is a virgin. At first he think she is joking, but he quickly realizes that Angela is sincere. In that moment, Angela stops becoming a fantasy and becomes a person to Lester.
He covers her with a blanket and comforts her. In this moment, Lester embraces responsibility. Throughout the film, Lester sheds the coils of societal expectation. Ultimately, Lester balances out his selfish impulses with genuine care for others. He breaks through his lustful delusions to see an inexperienced, frightened teenager before him, and he gives her comfort and affection.
Lester and Angela sit in the kitchen, where Angela eats. Lester asks her about Jane. Angela tells him that Jane is in love. For the first time in the film, Lester is genuinely interested in his daughter.
He is a father reborn. Angela asks how Lester feels. He feels genuine happiness for the first time in ages. Angela leaves the room for a moment, and Lester is murdered. His body lies on the table, a smile etched on his face.