Key Themes In American Beauty

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To many people, the “American dream” is having a decent job, a nice family, and a white picket fence in the suburbs. But what actually happens behind that white picket fence? Sam Mendes’ 1999 film, American Beauty, explores what happens behind closed doors of a seemingly perfect and normal family in American suburbia. The film plays on many different emotions; ranging from funny and whimsical to sad and tragic. American Beauty utilizes remarkable cinematography and stunning visual images, realistic characters, and relatable themes to show the journey of a man breaking free from the everyday monotony of the American suburban life, which urges watchers to look closer and find the beauty in life. The film American Beauty details the miserable life of Lester Burnham, a middle aged man stuck in a boring, dead-end job, living in the suburbs with his perfectionist wife, Carolyn, and his …show more content…

Lester is the main protagonist of the film, but as supported by the author in the article “Looking Closer: Structure, Style and Narrative in American Beauty", there are actually multiple protagonists in the film (Law 124). Although the main story is framed around Lester, the other protagonists play key roles. The characters in American Beauty each have their own internal struggles. While Lester desires to become his true self, Carolyn struggles with keeping up her appearance of having a perfect life in order to be seen as successful, while Jane is coping with the trials of adolescence. Each of the character’s struggles help drive the different themes of the film in different ways. The main example of this would be Lester’s break from imprisonment, but also Carolyn’s desire to have the perfect life exemplifies the materialism of American suburbia. Because of their relatability, the characters in American Beauty help engage audiences in the

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