Jan 4, 2010

The American Beauty, 1999

The American Beauty, 1999. Director: Sam Mendez
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning
Genre: drama

Chosen theatre:my home (for the seventh time in a row, I guess, I catch the movie on TV)

Short synopsis: Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation for his daughter's attractive friend.

General impression:
This is definitely a piece worth seeing even every once in a while, not only once. I have just seen it a few days ago once again and it inspired me. I truly believe it will bring out the best of the black irony you have left in your cells. The scenery, the placing, the characters and superb acting by the leading actors are worth seeing and thinking about. The movie offers oldest philosophical dilemmas you are faced with in reality: aging, breaking up and building relationships, gay relationships, authority in the family, teenage rebellion.

The beginning scene already rocks my black ironic brains. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) stands under the shower jerking off and describing it as the highlight of his day, everything else that would follow would simply be a downfall. The scene, following the ironic description of the perfect wife and the "perfect life" he set up in the last 20 years.

Normally, I give the movie 15 to most 20 minutes. Should it fail to impress me in this timeframe, I usually give up. In this case, the movie wins my heart in an instant and it just never seems to end with a rollercoaster of ironic scenes. In my opinion it is one of the best movies with the insight into male mid-life-chrisis. Lester desperately tries to win some of his youth strength and claims to be the guy with nothing to lose. Smoking weed, lifting weights, listening to American woman while driving in the car and sudden change of career to fast food employee. The sexual edge is given by (at that time one of the most highly recognized models) Mena Suvaru, that inflames his imagination in superb scene with the roses. Concurring with his attempt of getting his lost years back, also his wife loses her edge with a rising affair with a business partner.

One of the best scenes in the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okaWTEnU4j0,
followed by http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciZxGhJJWGU&NR=1

Imagine the ultimate message a mother should give to her daughter - like a true living sentence that will help her survive in times, when mother won't be around anymore. You have to admit that each movie at least tries to make a step towards giving a message (in some cases even I am not sure about my last claim :) - because the message is hard to be understood or even hard to be seen) And what does in this case mother give to her daughter?
"You can only count on yourself" - somewhere in the last third of the movie. True and yet pathetic. So generic. However, the path that leads to this saying by the nerve-wrecked perfect wife (Annette Benning), is dramatic and crowned in irony. Being mocked at (the spectator admits that Lester has the right to do it) and not being understood, she finally snaps. The perfect world she lives in, the matching gloves to the boots she uses when ironing her perfect roses in the garden, the plastic she uses to cover her expensive sofa not to be ruined by her heartless family, etc, all this perfection is burnt because her husband is having his second spring and is returning to his roots.

The highlight: catching leaves turning around in the wind. Superb scene, making you drull around the point the director was trying to make.
Apart from that: all the irony the movie is rich with. Can't avoid it.. and after a while, if you haven't, you will start absorbing it and enjoying it.

My personal rating: 9,0.(it will rock your boat to the neck)

p.s. IMDB peak: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169547/

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