You know, like, say hello to Mr. Well, now I know how you can afford all this equipment. Why Are Tube Sites Suddenly Filled With… Porm? Jane, you'd be out of your mind to go with him. The ROSE PETAL drifts into view, landing on his pillow. It gets We FOLLOW HER out the door, then the camera JERKS back to Lester calling after her. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS. Jane is sitting on her bed. You got the wrong idea.
Angela rolls her eyes at how silly this notion is. They've hired this efficiency expert, this really friendly guy named Brad, how perfect is that? The Colonel watches him go, uneasy. Jim #1 and Carolyn continue to chat, unaware that Lester is watching them. I'm going to go in with Jane and her mom. Quick, let's go up to my room.
His face tightens. What in the world is wrong with her? Jesus.
He salutes the Colonel good-naturedly, grinning.
right if I still can’t lose the key metaphor.
I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOUR FACE NO MORE... Lester continues singing along to "AMERICAN WOMAN," as the Camry pulls into the parking lot of a FAST FOOD RESTAURANT. Well... you better believe I'd hate my father if he did something like that to me. As if being driven to succeed is some sort of character flaw.
His face is close to hers, and suddenly the atmosphere is charged. Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... Carolyn walks slowly toward the RED DOOR, drenched to the bone, clutching her PURSE tightly. She smiles. Would you like to try our new bacon and egg fajita just a dollar twenty-nine for a limited time only. 'Cause he doesn't ever seem to come in... Yeah, okay, I'll leave my number... BRAD, a dapper man in his thirties, approaches and observes Lester, who is unaware of his presence.
CLOSE on the pencil in his hands: He's totaling two columns of NUMBERS. Lester gets up and starts after Jane, taking his plate with him.
Yeah, to you, he's just another guy who wants to jump your bones. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
JANE is seated at her desk, working at her computer. I feel like I've been in a coma for about twenty years, and I'm just now waking up. No. The Manager sighs and runs a hand through his greasy hair, wondering what he could possibly have done to deserve this. My dad thinks I pay for all this with catering jobs. She just stands there, staring at Lester. Ricky just stands there, watching him.
Honey, it's okay. Especially for those of us who first witnessed the sequence at a formative age — and maybe went on to creative passions and careers — it’s hard to divorce real-life plastic bags from the emotional state Ricky tries to convey. Ricky comes into the kitchen and slowly approaches Lester's lifeless body, wide-eyed but not afraid. Brad, for fourteen years I've been a whore for the advertising industry.
FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER. They're thirtyish, and they've seen a lot of houses today. That's the pervert who filmed me last night. INT. INT. On the gym floor, the girls perform. He doesn't. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER. Dad! What It’s Like to Pop Your Cherry on Reddit’s ‘Virginity Exchange’, The Sad, Strange Life and Death of Devonte Hart: The Crying Black Boy Who Famously Hugged a Cop, Hasan Piker Can Bro Down and Demolish Capitalism at the Same Time. Oh my God. I'm just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose.
Bench presses. Before we escaped into adulthood like the kids in the film, with the greatest of ambitions, only to let reality set in. The Colonel drives, staring darkly at the road ahead. Lester, dressed for work, goes through Jane's address book. You just don't know, because you're this pampered little suburban chick. Guapdad 4000, Lil Keed, And NLE Choppa Watch Lil Kim’s ‘Crush On You’ Video For The First Time On ‘React Like You Know’, Indiecast Reviews New Albums From Oneohtrix Point Never And Salem, Swae Lee Tells Us Why He Joined Esports XSET Gaming Crew And When Fans Can Expect ‘Sremm Life 4’, The Rundown: A Good Faith Attempt To Explain How And Why ‘How To With John Wilson’ Is So Good, Desi Lydic On The Fitting ‘The Daily Show’ Tribute To Ruth Bader Ginsburg And How She Changed America, In ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,’ The ‘Victims’ Have Become The Performers, Iraqi-Canadian MC Narcy Explains The Danger Of Internet Deep Fakes, The Best Ways To Research Down Ballot Candidates And State Measures, Talking With NBA Veteran Al Harrington About Black Representation In Cannabis, Master Brewer Jaega Wise On Getting More Women Into The Beer Industry And Brewing During A Pandemic.
He looks at her, curious, his eyes searching hers.
Well, excuse me, but I still have blood pumping through my veins! Management wants you gone by the end of the day.
Does he have a big dick? Lester stands at the bar. I think we deserve a little junk food, after the workout we had this morning.
Then they drugged me up and left me in there for two years.
He gets up. admirably. The Colonel's smile fades. Look, I'm not gonna talk about his dick with you, okay? I go to school with your daughter.
But it’s worth pondering what people saw in this movie once upon a time, and how American Beauty speaks to the present moment more than we might think.
The Colonel stands, still breathing heavily. He's staring at a computer monitor and talking on a HEADSET PHONE.
Like the time when Mr. Flournoy used the company MasterCard to pay for that hooker, and then she used the card numbers and stayed at the St. Regis for, what was it, like, three months? And it's become more important to you than living. Carolyn immediately becomes warm and gracious. Jane.
I'm facing a potentially very expensive divorce. CLOSE on Carolyn's eyes, reflected in the REAR-VIEW MIRROR.
Don't give up on me, Dad. US UNTIL 1998: wow, a piece of humble garbage made elegant by the whims of nature, I love it. We're MOVING SLOWLY toward the Burnham's GARAGE WINDOW through the RAIN.
I'll have a Big Barn Burger, Smiley fries, and an orange soda. In the fenced front yard of the house next door, a dog BARKS repeatedly. Angela is sprawled across her bed, on the phone.
On VIDEO: We're watching the video Ricky showed Jane earlier, of the empty white PLASTIC BAG being blown about. Only by taking full responsibility for your problems--and their solutions--will you ever be able to break free from the constant cycle of victimhood. We APPROACH them steadily.
I don't know, it's been a while. “How sad that we’ve polluted this planet to such an extreme,” I thought, “but I wonder if the bag, illuminated by headlights, floating in the abyss, wasn’t sort of beautiful.” Goddammit.
Before 9/11, before the Great Recession, and before Trump.
You were also good tonight. Then: Don't placate me like I'm your mother, boy.
We HEAR only the amplified BRUSH of her fingers against the fabric of his suit, and its unnatural, hollow ECHO... BACK IN REAL TIME: She grabs the root beer and smiles at him.
Upstairs, Jane complains to Ricky about her dad.
How much is an ounce? Something at the edge of the counter catches his eye, and he reaches for... CLOSE on a framed PHOTOGRAPH as he picks it up: It's the photo we saw earlier of him, Carolyn and Jane, taken several years ago at an amusement park. Any investigation into how and why American Beauty is the worst Best Picture winner of the modern era must begin, as all films do, with the screenplay. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Lester is awake, staring at the ceiling.
Mine. Angela sits on the stairs, shaken, crying.
You were defending him! She holds the GLOCK in her hand. Jane gets in the car. This is my street. (It also helps that the kids in Election seem like actual kids, and not vehicles for a screenwriter to deliver his greeting-card musings on the meaning of life.). And if you’re careful, you can look right back,” he beams. After a beat, Lester's jaw drops, then he throws his head back.
And yet, when people talk about the most important films of that year, American Beauty never seems to come up.
Lester leans back on the bench and grabs the weights. A film with the trappings of the edgy indie pictures that had captured the imaginations of young people and the press, but with reassuring mainstream conventions and big-name stars. Ricky stands with his DIGICAM, videotaping something on the ground at his feet.
Lester gives her a hard look, then slowly slips his hand into the water between her legs. On VIDEO: Angela looks at Jane, trying not to laugh. INT.
Alan Ball was going through his own Lester Burnham phase in the ’90s, when he was a successful TV writer for sitcoms like Grace Under Fire and Cybill. INT. Genetically engineered by the U.S. Government. Whatever.
The Colonel is suddenly, deeply shamed. INT. Angela drives, squinting through the windshield as the wipers move back and forth.
EXTREME CLOSE UP on her hand as it briefly touches his shoulder in SLOW MOTION.
Do you mind? Lester gropes blindly to shut it off. With all due respect to Ball, who managed to tell a dramatically better “American family in collapse” story on Six Feet Under, American Beauty plays like a redux of Blue Velvet that’s been authored by a hacky ’90s sitcom scribe.
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