American Beauty tells the story of one man’s search for happiness. The film introduces the audience to Lester Burnham, an ordinary- looking married man and father in his forties. Lester is in a loveless marriage. Lester’s wife, Carolyn, is so wrapped-up in her real estate career that Lester often claims that Carolyn doesn’t even acknowledge him. Furthermore, Lester’s daughter, Jane, is completely distant, often claiming how “pathetic” she thinks her father is. Moreover, Lester has dedicated fourteen years to his occupation, and suddenly, he is in danger of losing his job due to downsizing. All of these factors dramatically effect Lester and culminate into feelings of desperation and vulnerability for him. Lester is therefore in search of an escape and a rebirth. He is seeking the slightest possibility of happiness. Throughout the story Lester is consistently reminiscing on his past; wishing he could have it back. In the beginning portions of the story, Lester, as the narrator, states that “it is never too late to regain your past.” The catalyst to this frame of thought is Jane’s friend, Angela. Lester feels excited by the thought that a teen-age girl thinks he is “hot.” Lester overhears Angela state that she would have sex with him if Lester would start working-out and build-up his body. This drives Lester to change himself completely. Lester, in desperate search of happiness , finds an escape in Angela. Much like a hormone-driven teenage boy, Lester thinks that if he can “score” with a “bombshell” like Angela, then he will be reborn. Lester’s mission for happiness and escape is further perpetuated by his eighteen year old neighbor, Ricky. In Ricky, Lester sees his model for rebirth. Lester calls Ricky his “hero” and is in awe of Ricky’s confidence. Lester, then begins a transformation back to his stereotypical understanding of what a teenager is. Lester begins to work-out, smoke pot, and drink beer. Much like a teen, he …
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