Monday, April 19, 2010

American Beauty | Directed by Sam Mendes | Written by Alan Ball

Alright, I've got a long story with this one, so sit tight. Around the end of this story will be a review.

Ever since I saw him in the film, Ghost Rider, I have been in love with Wes Bentley's acting despite only seeing one movie with him in it. One day, I randomly turn the T.V on and I think, "Hey, I know him from somewhere!" and then "Oh my gosh, it's Wes!" I had no idea what I was getting myself into let alone what I was watching, only that I was bound and determined to continue watching this movie just because Wes Bentley was in it. I only saw the last fifteen minutes of this movie, which my first impressions were mixed between 'this is odd' and 'this movie seems really good'.

So, I figured out that this film was called American Beauty, and was my beloved Wes Bentley's debut role, of which he won "Best Supporting Actor". Naturally, I rent it. The person I was watching it with thought it was totally perverted and bizzare and made me remove the DVD from the house. And, it was indeed, bizzare.

A middle aged man, Lester Burnham, (played by Kevin Spacey), seems to be in a rut. He's unhappy, and just like the trailer says, he's "hardley there". He tell us that; he is the narrator. As he narrates, he hints that he is about to die soon, technically making this a movie about what happens to this man before he dies. Eventually, he developes a major crush on his teenage daughter's best friend, Angela (played by Mena Suvari). This is where people either can't take the movie seriously, don't like it, or think it's perverted (which, it is when it comes to some situations). This was all I got out of the hour of watching it before I had to turn it off.

Typically, I do not completely obsess over films. But despite its strangeness, I could not get American Beauty out of my head! It's like I knew that it was completely one of a kind (that's obvious) and couldn't draw away from it. And the music! Oh, Lord, the music! That piano piece where the charecter, Ricky (who is my favotie charecter, played by Wes Bentley), first appears is so haunting and mesmerizing and beautiful I wished I could hear it all the time! I KNEW I had to watch this entire film one way or another, but I hardley knew why.

Months later it appeared on television again. I watched the whole thing through, no interruptions, nothing to distract me.

Some background info before I dive into the review:
Well, I've already told you about Lester. But that's not the only story unfolding. We also have the story of his daughter, Jane (played by Thora Birch). Jane isn't happy with her looks, low self esteem, etc. But her friend named Angela is totally confident, trampy, and arrogant. Then you have the odd new neighbors, Ricky Fitts (played by West Bentley) and his parents. Ricky shows an interest in Jane and videotapes what he considers "beauty" (like dead birds, Jane, wind-blown plastic bags), Ricky's father is abusive and angry, and his mother seems to have a problem. Lester's wife, Carolyn (played by Annette Bening) also has quite the story. She's a hard working real estate agent that always strives to be successful.

So, this film is about Lester and what happens to him before he dies and what also happens to all of the people around him.

This ended up being by far the best movie I have ever seen in my entire life. Even if Wes Bentley wasn't in this, it would still be my favorite movie, and Ricky would still be my favorite charecter. (Although I highly doubt anyone could do it better than him.) And if you're a comedy type of person, this film is humorous as well!

When Kevin Spacey ended the film with his narration and the screen went black, I had the gut feeling you get when speeding down a high roller coaster hill. That's how moved I was. My heart literately skipped a beat and the breath left my body.

American Beauty is beautiful. It's moving, breathtaking, inspiring, and to top it all off, the film score was perfect. It's so much more than a middle aged man crushing on a teenage girl. It's about what people fight for, and how to look at the world through a more optimistic view. It is a story about love and strife, and it's about beauty. Alan Ball is a genius for writing this.

The acting was absolutely spectacular. I don't think I'll ever see such a great cast all in one place ever again. But, as I already hinted before, the main thing that made this film over the top is how moving and inspiring it is. This film actually taught me some things about life. For so long, I thought the world was ugly with its murderers and impure people. American Beauty changed that outlook and changed my life forever. It taught me that if you really "look closer", the world is so beautiful. This philosophy is first expressed in depthly by Ricky, and then mentioned at the end of the movie, when Lester is dead.

This is the quote when Ricky refers to this philosophy, and my favorite existing quote:
"It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."

Another quote I like from this film, spoken by Jane: "And we'll always be freaks and we'll never be like other people!"

If you watch this movie and don't like it/don't understand, watch it over and over again until you do. The message in this movie will change you, inspire you, and touch you.

A perfect masterpiece like this... shouldn't even be called a movie. It deserves a much higher title, but none that could fit the specific purpose exists. No words can describe my feeling for this movie; I cannot say enough, and I'm even getting teary eyed now as I am typing all of this.

Since I can only give American Beauty a maximum of 5/5 stars, that's what I'll give it. But if I could, I'd give it all the stars in the universe. And more.

*Winner of five 1999 Acadamy Awards:
Best Picture
Best Actor: Kevin Spacey
Best Actress: Annette Bening
Best Supporting Actor: Wes Bentley
Best Supporting Actress: Thora Birch

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