COLUMN: American Beauty, exceptional and relevant


Rob Le Cates

Cam’ron Hardy is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Cam'ron Hardy, Columnist

American Beauty takes audience members through an experience of an average man who gets tired of living a simple and dull life and does a complete 180º turn.

Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, grows tired of his average and boring life and changes his ways and lives a life he enjoys. His wife, Carolyn Burnham, played by Annette Bening and their daughter, Jane Burnham, played by Thora Birch, also experience their own changes in life.

For about the first 30 minutes of the film, it was difficult to depict where the story was going to go. There is a lot of time to understand the relationships between people, which is good for context, but it lasts for an extended amount of time.

The acting was great in this film. Carolyn has a lot of emotional scenes where she is very expressive and does well this role. When she was caught cheating on Lester and she had to drop her secret partner, she has a breakdown in her car, which was not overdone. Bening’s emotional scenes were accurate and believable. Spacey’s performance was great. His monotone narration scenes were great for his character.

His life, full of ennui, was later reformed by the inspiration of his daughter’s friend, Angela Hayes, played by Mena Suvari, would admire him.

When they first interact, the dialogue was so awkward that audience members could feel secondhand embarrassment. The uncomfortable aura of the scene is appropriate because the conversation they are having is not supposed to be had; a father is attempting to impress and flirt with a high school student, and we feel the tension through the screen.

This connects to the writing of the film. There are multiple relationships that the audience must keep up with and all their interactions seem natural. Ricky Fitts, played by Wes Bentley, is Jane’s boyfriend and his laid-back tone matches his personality.

The cinematography was impressive. The lighting played a big part with this. The use of spotlight added intensity to the scene.

There were a lot of roses used, which had an underlying meaning of referring to love and lust, but they added life to some scenes. Objects and people were proportional and even which made things look proportional.

Overall, the story was great. Some audience members could take inspiration from this movie to change their life around and get out of the complacent state that they may be in. Maybe not change to the degree of this movie though.

The film won five Academy Awards including best picture, best actor in a leading role, best writing, best directing, and best cinematography.

This is an exceptional film and is still relevant today.

Rate: 4/5

Cam’ron Hardy is a sophomore journalism major. He can reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.