American Beauty - a Sociological Movie Review Essay

2063 Words Oct 20th, 2006 9 Pages
American Beauty
A Sociological Movie Review

American Beauty, a film that was written by Allan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes in 1999 is a unique piece that demonstrates many sociological themes throughout the development of the plot. The characters strive to portray themselves as the All American Family. They live in a nice house, drive nice cars and seem perfectly normal to the general public, but the audience is allowed to view the deep set issues that plague the main characters; Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), Carolyn Burnham (Annette Bening), Jane Burnham (Thora Birch), and Jane's best friend Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari). As the plot develops there are many obvious parallels relating the lives of the characters to Merton's Strain
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Rather than just floating through life and letting other people handle everything, Lester becomes his own man and is goal oriented again. As Lester's lifestyle changes, his Mode of Adaptation changes as well. Instead of spending all of his time just going through the motions, Lester becomes set upon the idea of improving himself and his situation. His means of improvement are not necessarily socially acceptable or considered to be legitimate ways to accomplish goals. This places Lester in the rebellion mode. He is goal oriented but his goals are not those generally accepted by society and he uses unconventional and illegitimate means to accomplish his goals. Lester leaves his well paying job and begins working at Mr. Smileys serving hamburgers. He begins buying marijuana from the teenage boy next door and fantasizing about his teenage daughter's best friend. The goals created by society for a man of Lester's background are no longer appealing to him so he begins to pursue his own goals and use his own tactics to complete those goals. Lester made a complete turnaround from living his life as a conformist to breaking the barrier and living as a rebel instead. Unlike Lester Burnham, Carolyn Burnham can be categorized in one Mode of Adaptation throughout the entire movie. She tries very hard to appear to be successful and content but inwardly she does not feel that way. In order to make herself feel

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