American Beauty Character Analysis

1189 Words 5 Pages
Noah Spencer
Professor Travis Sutton
RTVF 1320
20 April 2016
American Beauty: The Beauty of True Character American Beauty is a 1999 drama film directed by independent filmmaker Samuel Mendes. The main cast stars Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, Annette Bening co-stars as his wife, Carolyn Burnham and Thora Birch stars as their daughter, Jane Burnham. Another major character is Jane’s best friend, Angela, played by Mena Suvari. The film follows the midlife crisis of middle-aged man Mr. Burnham and his attraction to his daughter’s young friend Angela. The film explores the concepts of what true beauty really means and the role that beauty plays in each character's’ life. Lester Burnham, Carolyn Burnham, and Angela Hayes are three characters
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Lester Burnham is first presented as a depressed man who has lost all sense of purpose in his life. The film begins with Lester’s narration on how his life is “boring” and how he is “already dead”, essentially depicting how he has become a shell of a person that he once was. The audience is introduced to Lester’s everyday life by being exposed to him masturbating during his morning shower. Lester narrates, “This is the highpoint of my day, it all goes downhill from here.” One could infer that this is how Lester starts out his everyday life, which viewers might believe he is quite sick and perverted at the beginning. But there are reasons behind his perverted actions. He has been repressing a lot of emotions and feelings, therefore affecting his overall tone and attitude toward not only his own life but the lives of others surrounding him- especially his family. Lester’s family can be described as the typical, white suburban family but with a lot of issues. The audience is given a glance at the family problems during one of the beginning scenes at the family dinner. Both his wife and daughter think that Lester is this gigantic loser. The sad thing is, Lester thinks so too. His daughter Jane has the least respect for him. He narrates how he wishes he could tell Jane that all of the adolescent issues will pass, but he “doesn't want to lie to …show more content…
Angela is first presented as a head cheerleader at the basketball game, immediately promoting her high popularity status. In the beginning of the film, she is portrayed as a snooty, slutty, and stuck up teenager. She uses the “slut persona” as a coping mechanism in order to hide her imperfections as she longs to grow up quickly. Her friendship with Jane is fake, due to the fact that Angela hangs with her in order promote her dominance and make her feel good about herself. People who watch the film at first would most likely hate everything about Angela. But after diving into deeper detail, one may realize the reasons behind her behaviors. Angela makes a couple family related references during the film that might explain her behaviors. At the basketball game, Angela mentions to Jane, “I hate it when my mom tries to take interest in my activities.” Notice how she did not speak about her father. She then opens up later while smoking in the car with Jane by saying, “we used to go out for family meals at a lobster restaurant when my Dad was still here.” This confirms the fact that her father is no longer a part of her life. The reason that Angela is obsessed with boys and sex is because missed out on having a father figure, which is a key relationship when it comes to growing up during the adolescence period. According to an article by Karen Teel, head of the department of

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