American Beauty swept the 2000 Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Original Screenplay (Alan Ball), Best Actor (Kevin Spacey) ) and five Academy Awards for Best Cinematography. "American Beauty" is a film of the "social problem" genre, in which the villains not only reflect their own problems, but also represent the problems of the whole society. The Handbook of American Film Types defines a so-called "social problem" as follows: First, the problem must be some kind of environment that negatively affects a larger group of people. Second, it must be sufficient to constitute a problem, that is, the person concerned with the problem must have sufficient power and influence to attract public attention. In the end, one has to believe that the problem can be solved by taking reasonable steps. For example, a film that explores the aggression inherent in human nature would not qualify as a social issue film; conversely, a film that reflects the pernicious effects of apartheid might fit that definition.
The film opens with a voiceover by a middle-aged American man, Lester Burnham, who not only explains "this is my life" in his monologue, but also reveals that he will die in less than a year. Lester, wife Caroline and daughter Jenny live a peaceful life in the suburbs of America. However, his family is not as normal as outsiders see it. His life is like a parabola, as he himself said: "My daily masturbation in the bathroom is the highest point of the day, and then it gets worse." The shrewd and capable wife not only has a real estate company of her own, but also will live in her life. Everything is arranged in an orderly manner. And he has worked hard in an advertising company for 14 years, but he is still empty-handed. He's tired of his job because he hates the customers he has to cuddle with and the company's self-righteous bosses; he's tired of the same routine because he believes he's unattractive in the eyes of his wife, just a jerk It's just, they haven't even lived as a couple for several years, and his wife Caroline is eager for emotional comfort; he is tired of the new human daughter, because daughter Jenny hates her parents, she complains about her figure, and also Complaining about her parents, she revolves around her classmate Angela, who aspires to be a supermodel and is afraid of the ordinary, until she discovers her new neighbor, the rebellious teenager Richie, who secretly filmed her on camera, igniting her repressed youth. fire.
Under Caroline's coercion, Lester watched his daughter's cheerleading performance for the middle school basketball game and met team member Angela. The initial motivation to push to the death line! The lingering youthful energy and beautiful appearance of Angela awakened the vitality that Lester had buried in her heart for many years. From then on, a new chapter in Lester's life has opened up: he bravely faced his boss and quit his boring job, he began to train his muscles vigorously, and regained his glory in order to seduce Angela; facing his wife Instead, he was relieved of cheating; he also bought high-quality marijuana from Richie to smoke; he fell into the love trap of an underage girl. It doesn't seem like a bad idea to let go of a life that doesn't change. However, things gradually took a very interesting and unpredictable direction until Ritchie's staid father - a repressed gay - Colonel Fitz, mistook his son for a sex trade with Lester and went to confess to Lester. Rejected, and finally pulled the trigger at Lester.
The film is often framed by critics as a quintessentially bewildering and frustrating experience for a man going through a midlife crisis, or as "a blow to the emotional life of suburban America". But the significance of this film is more than that: it fully demonstrates the painful soul struggling to break through the cocoon in the postmodern society, the struggle of a foolish little life to "seek beauty", and the use of "beauty" to awaken the over-consumerism , Feminism represses life to death.
The name "American Beauty" comes from the name of a rose (rose belongs to the Rosaceae family): American beauty refers to the red rose that blooms in the United States throughout the year. According to myths and legends, a god of love was eager to pick roses for his lover, but his finger was accidentally punctured, and the rose petals, which were originally white, were dyed red with blood. Love God presented the bright red flowers to the lover, the lover was moved, and returned the love God's loyalty and bravery with a hundred times of love. After that, the red rose flower represents love, and is more loved by men and women in love. The most impressive thing in the film is the rose petals that appear in Lester's hallucination. Lester first entered a hallucination while watching Angela's cheerleading performance and saw Angela dancing for him alone. When she unbuttoned her clothes, thousands of rose petals poured out. While Angela was staying at home with his daughter, he had a second hallucination: Angela was leaning against the refrigerator to tease him, and after he kissed her, Lester had a rose petal in his mouth. Afterwards, Lester had hallucinations and saw Angela bathing in a bathtub full of rose petals. After kissing, Lester left another rose petal in his mouth. Indeed, the rose petal is the most important motif in this film, and the rose ties Angela. However, the rose is not an exclusive symbol for Angela. In the film, the rose appears more than ten times. The first scene of roses is when Caroline pretends to greet her gay lover Jim next door, and Caroline, who dresses herself up carefully, is "carefully matching" roses. Of course, this is not a "coincidence". The camera cuts in with a delicate rose, narrated by Lester's voice "This is my wife, Caroline." However, for Lester, his wife is already yesterday's rose, and now "I feel tired when I see her". As the spokesperson of love, roses have undoubtedly become the first choice gifts for men to give to their favorite women. Roses are a symbol of romance. In addition, roses are also known for their short flowering period, suggesting that beauty (especially the beauty of youth) is also fleeting and uncontrollable. This meaning once started the popularity of live music-style poetry, "seize the day", enjoying life, chasing love and beauty. In the 17th century, the English poet Robert Herrick wrote the characteristics of roses in the verse of "Advice to a Young Girl": A rose must be broken after it is broken.
When a rose appears with Caroline, whether placed next to a family photo frame, on a well-kept dining table, or in a neat white fence, the rose itself—with petals, stems, and thorns—appears intact. . When the rose appeared with Angela, it was fiery, seductive, and thornless. Because in Lester's heart-pounding fantasies, Angela was surrounded by only delicate rose petals. This implies that Lester subconsciously resists the overall symbolism of the rose, he is only willing to accept the best part, and the same is true for Angela. The initial impulse was that Angela awakened Lester's sexuality, prompting him to actively devote himself to the rejuvenating fitness exercise. Admitting that he is still a virgin, the uncle does not have the substantive relationship with Lori, but Lester has acquired the most needed glory: spiritual intimacy with women. Lester finds beauty on a physical, instinctual level - dignity and dominance as a man.
Of course, Lester has a boring job, a constant life, and everything around him in addition to his sexual misery. Then the person who led Lester to pursue spiritual and mental beauty was Richie, the son of the neighbor Colonel Fitz. In addition to the eye-catching symbol of the rose, the film also has a thought-provoking metaphor—the wind-blown plastic bag in Richie’s camera that resembles the feathers in Forrest Gump. Richie shared his most beautiful filming with Jenny: "A fifteen-minute video, a white plastic bag, a gust of wind, and the most beautiful scenery." On the Oscar podium, screenwriter Alan Ball said he had I saw plastic bags flying in the wind at the World Trade Center, which inspired me to create a script. It's beautiful, Rich explained, because it implies that there is some kind of "life" in everything—a force in the universe that is kind to people. Even the things that are least cherished and ignored have a mysterious power behind them, a power of compassion that lets me know that I don't have to be afraid. When Richie and Lester traded marijuana, they used the film "The Living Dead" as the name, and it was indeed because of "The Living Dead" that the two had a good relationship. Ritchie's works are full of images and videos of corpses. Until the end of the film, Jenny and Rich found Lester lying in a pool of blood. Facing the corpse, Rich admired and smiled. In his opinion, Lester was "beauty" at this moment. Seemingly perverted and disgusting aesthetic taste, Rich has his own set of theories. In death, he said, there is a moment when you can see God looking directly at you—and you can look him in the eye. What you see is "beauty". Perhaps it is because of Richie Fitz's perspective on "beauty" that Lester became his follower. "Beauty" is not Angela's youthful beauty, Caroline's whitewashing beauty, or the flood of life. Material beauty, Rich started Lester's journey to find beauty, and also accelerated the process of Lester's death.
At the end of his life, Lester looked back on this stupid little life and saw the "beauty" he had been searching for for a long time. It turned out that he had accumulated all kinds of beauty at the beginning of his search for beauty. Beauty is everywhere. Lester's trivial life and the little memories of growing up are all the medicines for his soul that he is struggling to find. He eventually discovered that, under the cover of this peaceful suburb, there lived too many deserters and struggling souls. And he is happy, because at the last moment of his life, a beautiful rose was planted in the wasteland of his dry soul. The ending part of American Beauty is still accompanied by Lester's monologue and the white plastic bag flying in the wind. The top-view camera is put back to the seemingly peaceful suburb where Lester lived, giving the viewer a structural sense of The perfect sense of reincarnation. This review of American Beauty, I think, concludes with the review of The Washington Post. Perhaps, this seven-character film review—“hilarious, sad, and cruel”—is the most beautiful conclusion to this article.