According to my wife, American Beauty is a film she never wants to see again. She didn't dislike it. She just doesn't want to see it again. Too disturbing.
I have watched it a few times. Something about it still haunts me.
According to the director, Sam Mendes, American Beauty is a "rites of passage" film about imprisonment and escape from imprisonment. I see that, but it's not, for me, the main point of the film.
Roy M. Anker argues that the film's thematic center is its direction to the audience to "look closer". That's closer for me.
A key scene in viewing the film through that particular lens is the bag blowing in the wind film-within-the-film scene (below).
The screenwriter, Alan Ball, was partly inspired when in 1991 he saw a plastic bag blowing in the wind outside the World Trade Center. He watched the bag for ten minutes, saying later that it provoked an "unexpected emotional response."
When Jane becomes romantically involved with Ricky, he shows her his video of what he considers the most beautiful thing he has recorded - a plastic bag blowing in the wind. Sounds stupid if you haven't seen the film.
For me, tonight is also a time in Paradelle that is just a minute before it snows. I'm feeling that there is an entire other life behind things. There is a force behind things that is saying not to be afraid. There's so much beauty in the world, that it hurts.
- American Beauty (1999) and The Virgin Suicides (also 1999) packaged together as a "double feature" - an interesting pairing.
- More film information at IMDB
- American Beauty (DVD)
- Official Site for American Beauty
- The excellent American Beauty: Original Motion Picture Score - by Thomas Newman and the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack