Analysis of American beauty

Summary "American Beauty" follows the Burnham family as they navigate through their unfulfilling suburban lives. After a midlife crisis, Lester becomes infatuated with his daughter's friend Angela, leading to tension within the household. Meanwhile, the new neighbor, Ricky, records their interactions through his camera. Ultimately, the characters confront their vulnerabilities and desires, resulting in unexpected consequences. The film explores themes of identity and the American Dream. The story ends with a shocking revelation as Lester is found dead, leaving the other characters to react to his death and reflect on their own lives.



Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Lester Lester starts off as a frustrated and powerless man, unhappy with his job and marriage. He becomes infatuated with Angela and is struggling to navigate his failing relationships. However, he begins to take control of his life and transforms himself physically and emotionally, becoming more confident and assertive. He confronts those who wronged him and is willing to stand up for himself. Eventually, he experiences a sexual awakening after meeting Angela and finds beauty in the world around him The character arc for Lester is well-developed and portrays his transformation in a believable way. However, the focus on his infatuation with Angela feels uncomfortable and inappropriate, particularly given the age difference between them. Additionally, the portrayal of Carolyn as the nagging wife who drives Lester to seek out other women is problematic and reinforces negative gender stereotypes
To improve the character arc for Lester, the script could focus more on his internal struggles and less on his infatuation with Angela. This would allow for a more nuanced and realistic portrayal of his midlife crisis. Additionally, the portrayal of Carolyn could be revised to give her more agency and complexity as a character. Finally, the script could explore the impact of Lester's actions on the people around him, particularly his daughter, in a more meaningful way.
Carolyn Carolyn starts as a selfish, competitive and unhappy wife, obsessed with her job and image. She has an affair with Buddy but realizes her mistake and starts to struggle with changing priorities and strains in her marriage. She finds a newfound love for guns but her obsession with self-improvement and control makes her a threatening presence. She is shattered by the events that unfold and realizes the importance of love and family. While Carolyn's character arc is well developed, it feels rushed towards the end and lacks a satisfying resolution. The introduction of her newfound love for guns feels out of place and contrived. Her transition from a selfish and controlling person to a loving wife and mother is not well established and feels sudden.
To improve the character arc, the filmmakers should spend more time establishing Carolyn's frustrations and struggles, especially in her relationship with Lester. Her affair with Buddy should be better explored and the consequences of her actions should have a deeper impact on her character. The introduction of guns should be foreshadowed and integrated more smoothly into the story. The resolution should be more gradual and convincing, with Carolyn making a real effort to change and becoming a more empathetic and loving person.
Jane Jane navigates her own insecurities and confusion about her sexuality while trying to cope with her parents' dysfunctional relationship. She begins to find solace in Ricky's discipline and structure, but ultimately realizes her own strength and learns to stand up for herself. The character arc for Jane is well-developed and captures the complexities of teenage life. However, it could benefit from more focus on her personal growth rather than just her reactions to external challenges.
To improve Jane's character arc, we could see more of her inner struggle as she explores her own desires and identity. We could also see her actively seeking out ways to overcome her challenges, rather than just being reactive to the events around her. Additionally, more emphasis could be placed on her relationship with her father and how his controlling behavior affects her journey towards independence.
Angela Angela starts off as a confident and sexually empowered young woman who uses her seductive power to assert control over those around her. However, as the movie progresses, she becomes increasingly insecure and vulnerable, struggling with her self-image and using her sexuality as a means of gaining validation. She eventually confronts her fears and insecurities, and starts to see Lester as a father figure rather than a potential lover. The arc of Angela's character is interesting, but it feels somewhat predictable and cliche. Additionally, her character's motivations and desires are not always clear, making it difficult for the audience to fully invest in her journey.
To improve Angela's character arc, it would be helpful to provide more insight into her backstory and her reasons for using sexual power to assert control. Additionally, exploring her relationships with other characters - particularly Jane and Ricky - could help to deepen her character development and make her more relatable to the audience.
Ricky Ricky starts off as a moody and mysterious character, fascinated by death and beauty. He is a troubled teenager with a strained relationship with his father. He finds solace in filming and his relationship with Jane. As the movie progresses, he becomes more rebellious and free-spirited, standing up for himself and leaving home. He still maintains his fascination with death and beauty, but also shows concern for Jane's feelings and tries to understand her perspective. In the end, he remains an enigma, with mysterious sources of income and deeper secrets and motivations. While Ricky's character arc is intriguing and adds depth to the film, it sometimes feels disjointed and unclear. The movie hints at deeper issues, but doesn't always provide enough context or explanation for the audience to fully connect with Ricky's character.
To improve Ricky's character arc, the movie could provide more backstory and context for his troubled past and mysterious sources of income. This would help the audience understand his motivations and connect with his character on a deeper level. Additionally, the film could focus more on his relationship with Jane and the ways they support each other through their struggles.