American Beauty

I’d seen Kevin Spacey as the twisted Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects a while ago, and House of Cards in recent years. Probably because of my exposure to Spacey as Frank Underwood, his character in this movie seemed pretty young to me at first. It was kind of nice to see such a familiar old face be young again.

So this movie has been floating around on my list for years- probably at least since early high school. I’d read the description multiple times and remained unconvinced- sure, it was critically acclaimed etc but there were plenty of movies like that that I didn’t love- was this one worth the time investment? Before, I usually opted for a steamy drama or a cute comedy if I was in the mood for a movie, rather than the ubiquitous TV shows I went through on a weekly basis.

The ending was unexpectedly sad and poetic for me. Sure, the movie begins with Spacey saying he died a year from now- and I did think it was going to be the uptight Army guy, once he punched out his own son- but I didn’t expect it to be graphic, or when he was so happy and on the cusp of maybe getting his life together. It was cruel. And apparently there’s a lot of debate about the themes and point of this movie- I would say it is both about the hollowness of American suburbia and the meaning of life that everyone searches for. In a way, I think the movie posits that beauty is part of the answer to that- but I’ll leave it to you to read the theories put forth by countless critics.

In a shocking turn of events, I really liked this movie -a complete reversal of what I expected to think and feel. I also didn’t expect to genuinely like most of the characters.

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