I have chosen to do this piece of film because I feel the director (Sam Mendes) takes a typical worn out story of a forty something year old man waking up and realising that life has not turned out the way he planned and follows him as he sets around trying to change it.
I think this film has heart and it makes you care about the man played by Kevin spacey.
American Beauty opens with a girl being filmed as she begins to talk about her misguided father. The shot is very grainy and the sound isn’t up to a great deal, I would think that the camcorder had had a grey fitter on it to add to the gloomy feel of the shot .The lighting is also very dim and grainy, it has an overall feeling of that of teenage angst. It is lit in a way to make the girl look very pale. Just as the camera starts to focus on her she begins to complain about being filmed. She suddenly leaps forward and turns the camera onto the person who was filming her. It is a young man in comparison to her, looking healthy, naked from the waist upward, he calmly says no. This sort of thing happens through-out the film, you will be focused on the one person and then the camera will be switched and you are able to see it from another persons point of view and we begin to follow them instead. As the boy regains control of the camera the girl continues to talk more on her father “I want a dad I can rely on not one who’s gonna blow chunks every time I have a girlfriend over…someone should put him out of his misery” we see the camera slowly closing up on her as she is talking, the boy then abruptly asks “want me to kill him?” as he speaks the shot changes and pulls right back and then goes for a close up of her face, and she looks straight up and licks her lips slowly and replies “Would you?”.With that the screen goes blank and the titles commence of which follows a soft haunting xylophone music, and then suddenly you get a shot of a town neatly laid out looking very pleasant. After, we hear a soft male American voice who begins to tell us the story of his life. This is a very similar style of that of banning that was used in the 60s/70s English documentary with a voice of god style talk over. He opens by telling us his name which is Lester Burnstum, age 42, and then tells us that this is his town of which the camera slowly begins to focus, he then narrates to us that it is his street, and then informs us that in less then a year he will be dead.
The shot changes and we see a man laying face down in a dark bedroom with beams of light appearing though the blind. The other half of the bed, although empty, has been slept in and you can see small items on the bed side, as we see Lester he is lying in such a way as to make us think he could be already dead, but then the alarm goes of and breaks the silence. As Lester turns to lay facing upward on his bed we see the almost prison like pattern of his pillow and his pyjamas. The light falls just above his head. As he pulls himself up we get a shot from underneath the bed of him putting his slippers on, this is a memorable shot because he seems to know exactly where his slippers are. The bedroom has the same grey filter on as did the opening shots. He then moves into the bathroom and the voice over starts up .You see him in the shower and the voice over informs us that this ”will probably be the highlight of his day jerking off in the shower” you then see a shot of just his head in the shower and it looks like his bathing in light and it encourages you to think that today might be different for him. As the camera pulls back you get a segment of doorframe and in comparison it makes Lester look almost newborn in that something solid and real has been used in the shot.
We then change again, this time to something totally different, we have a shot of a rose and it is held in shot for about 2 seconds, we slowly pull back onto a women, about midthirty, dressed in a beisens suit with an apron over the top. Gardening makes her appear as soft and feminine to the audiences. The voice over then informs us that it’s his wife and also that the handle on her seers and her clogs do not in fact match by accident. A man then walks from next door house and starts a peasant mid morning chat with carol(lesters wife ). Lester then informs us that this is Sam and then the camera changes and focus on a man by the gate playing with a dog there is a slight pause and that’s his partner Sam. The first Sam then finishes his conversation with carol and walks over to the man and the dog and they start discussing how best to train him. The camera then turns and slowly pans across the garden back on to Lester peering out of the window ,there is a shadow over the whole house which gives in a cold feel among the sunshine and new day. Lester look tided and old peeping behind the curtains as if watching from the side of a stage ready to make his entrance on to the stage which his life.