Wednesday, 28 December 2011

American Beauty

I remember a few years ago coming across a song called "waiting for my real life to begin" and at the time it struck a chord with me. I had finished university, was living with my then girlfriend and was embarking on my career as a teacher, but I still had that nagging doubt that something was missing; I was waiting for something.

Four or five years on that feeling hasn't really disappeared, except now I own my own flat and I no longer have that (or any) girlfriend. On top of that my job isn't exactly the most enjoyable (although I have taken steps to remedy that) and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. In essence I am struggling with who exactly I am and who I want to be seen as.

Which for me is everything that American Beauty is all about. A mid-life crisis for Lester Burnham is waking up one day with the realisation that you have no idea who you are, and all of those childhood hopes and dreams have not come to fruition. Perhaps the most telling line in the film is when his daughter informs him that they haven't spoken for weeks and he hasn't realised. He is sleep-walking his way through life.

I think the film resonates with me because that is what I am petrified of happening - that one day I will wake up and be middle-aged without ever having done anything with my life.

American Beauty is a fantastically well made movie, with possibly some of the best acting in any of the films I have seen so far in this challenge. From Kevin Spacey down to Allison Janney, I don't think a single person plays their part anything but superbly.

Every single one of them to me outlines a different part of that struggle of who they want to be and how they want to be seen as - from Suvari as the teenager who wants to be anything but ordinary to Bening who wants the outwardly respectable marriage. Every single character in this film is struggling with the same thing, the lack of identity or at least the struggle with being the person you want to be.

This is a must-see movie, and is without a doubt one of my all time favourites.

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