American Beauty – Ending Explained & Plot Summary

Director Sam Mendes’ dramatic film about American suburban life won five Academy Awards in its year of release, including Best Picture and Best Actor; collected an excellent box office, positive reviews from viewers and critics. The latter, despite the large number of reviews, did not reach the only correct interpretation of the essence and meaning of the film. Nevertheless, the picture, which characterized the era of “more meaningful life” in cinema through flowers, unsuccessful marriage and adolescent maximalism, deserves not only attention, but also a certain status. Below we will explain why American Beauty can be considered a cult film. Go.

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Summary of the plot of the film

If you describe “American Beauty” with one sentence, then it is unambiguously “simple and tasteful.” Literally everything, down to the symbolic vase of roses in scenes with the heroine Mina Suvari, is done with a subtle sense of style. The plot can also be attributed here: the dull routine of the protagonist is disturbed by his acquaintance with his daughter’s friend. Which, although it seems unassuming, because according to director Sam Mendes, this is a “series of love stories “, is  fraught with interesting plot twists and a completely unexpected ending.

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Such “plot minimalism” is built with the help of a pronounced linear narrative narrative, the plot branches of which are habitually connected at the end. An exception to this rule can be considered the warning of the hero of Kevin Spacey that at the end of this story he will die. However, all subsequent scenes are strictly in order, revealing the characters and motivations of the main characters until the end of the film.

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Thus, we learn that 42-year-old Lester Burnham is a hostage of his own life, who has awakened “from twenty years of sleep” due to sexual attraction, ends his path from “a slave of the ordinary” to a “free man” realizing how wonderful his family and the world around him.

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By this analogy, his wife Caroline Burnham, a convinced careerist and materialist who cannot divorce Lester only for fear of losing part of the house, despite the betrayal and ambiguous scene with the pistol, still loves Lester, which is indicated in the frame at the end. where Caroline, sobbing, hugs the shirts of her already dead husband.

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The essence of the title of the film and the meaning

Many critics believe that the name American Beauty, originally American Beauty, is a vision of what Americans themselves consider beautiful or beautiful. What embodies the so-called “American Dream” is a life without prejudice, made possible by rebellion and natural slyness. By the way, similar skill is partly endowed with Burnham’s neighbor Ricky Fitts.

Nevertheless, throughout the film, the filmmakers now and then depart from the standard of “American beauty” demonstrating the “dullness of the American suburb” with its invariable attributes: boring and uninteresting work, constraint in freedom, loneliness and a set of various stereotypes.

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Most critics agreed that “American Beauty” – literally “American beauty / beauty / beauty” is a reference to the main attributes of the film – the red rose of the “America’s Beauty” or “American Beauty”. Through the use of this flower, the film skillfully plays in contrast, demonstrating the primordial “dullness” of Lester’s life, and how it “fills” with color in the form of rose petals that are falling on the hero from the ceiling in the bedroom; petals in the bath with Angela; caps on the new robot; buying a red car; the red door of their house, and finally a close-up of Lester’s own blood on the wall.

The third and final symbolism refers to Angela Hayes, the friend of the Burnham’s daughter and the beautiful American girl who throughout the action was the object of Lester Burnham’s desire. Each of her appearance in the frame, associated with Lester, was accompanied by the participation of roses. And if in the beginning the creators, without hiding this pattern, literally “bathed Angela in petals.” Then after Lester refused to have sex with the girl, seeing his daughter in her, the roses turned into an element of the background, like a vase standing behind the girl’s back at the moment of the last conversation with the main character.

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Explanation of the ending American beauty

All the heroes of “American Beauty”, with the exception of Ricky Fitts, do not know how or do not want to notice the so-called “beauty in simple things.” For example, Lester’s wife Caroline grows roses in her yard only to “maintain the illusion of success.” The heroes’ daughter Jane Burnham tells Ricky that over the years of her work as a nanny, she saved three thousand dollars, just to have breast augmentation surgery. Lester himself does not closely notice his family, realizing their value only before an unexpected death. Such techniques characterize the Burnham as classic consumers who live in anticipation of “American beauty” and gradually fade away in the cycle of meaningless life.

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As a result

American Beauty, released the same year as Fight Club, made a splash in the American community. Both films advocated a “rejection of harsh reality.” And if the second offered the audience, as an option, knock down their fists in a closed club. The first one focused on a wider audience, whose members can quit their unloved job or decide to fulfill their cherished dream.

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